Sunday, December 12, 2010

Everything's Better With Platypi

"He's a semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal of ACTION!"
--Perry the Platypus theme song

"Some believe that the platypus proves that evolution is 100% real, because not even God could make that shit up. This is an animal that, upon being sent to a British natural history museum to catalog, was believed to be a taxidermist's prank. It looks like a beaver crossed with a mole with a duck's bill added for laughs. They belong to a group of mammals known as Monotremes, a group consisting of it and the echidna, which means they lay eggs. Additionally, they're an offshoot of mammals that evolved before teats/nipples evolved, so while they produce milk, they simply... sweat it out for their young to lap up. They also have ten sex chromosomes, where in most mammals there're simply two (X and Y). And their duck-bill? It's actually quite soft, and it acts as an electrical receptor. See, platypus eyes aren't too useful, especially underwater, so they use an electrolocation system in their bills to hunt shrimp and other aquatic invertebrates. (Sharks have a similar sense, in case they weren't scary enough.)

"And to top it off, they're poisonous. Yup, male platypi have poisonous spurs on their feet, and while the poison isn't lethal to humans, the cocktail of venom will usually incapacitate people, and can cause you to be in excruciating, incapacitating pain for months. And to top it off, morphine has no effect on said pain. So it won't kill you, it'll just make you wish it did.

"So, in short, it's easy to see how humans can become so interested in this goofy-looking creature. Odd appearance, cool features, and the ability to cripple you if you get stupid. What better metaphor for Australia? And it's an Inherently Funny Word. Also, baby playtpi are called 'puggles,' which is quite possibly the cutest word ever invented, and have been called so since before pugs were crossed with beagles to make the dog breed of the same name.

"Plus, if you want to talk about them in the plural, expect to confound linguists until the end of time. (Platypodes, platypi, and platypuses are all acceptable spellings.)"

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