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Ornythoryncus Anatinus
Original Post

The duck-billed platypus is a primitive creature. Classified as a monotreme, it is one of three species, the other two being echidnas, long and short beaked spiny anteaters, also natives to Australia, who broke off from the mammalian line over 140 million years ago, and have not changed much since. The platypus lays eggs like a reptile or bird, but is warm-blooded, furry and suckles its babies like a mammal. It is a "one-holer" or "cloacal" since it uses one tract as both anus and birth canal. The platypus was thought to be a clever hoax when it was presented to scientists at the British Museum in London in 1798, who thought someone had stitched the thing together. “Flat foot” - what platypus means in its Latin roots - still swims and waddles streambeds along the Eastern coast of Australia and Tasmania. It holds a fascination for adults and children, witness the many webbed sites (the best is below). It is certainly what provoked my writing this play, when I read an article in the Science Times: "Does a Platypus Dream?" about sleep experiments with Ornythoryncus Anatinus. In one flash, the characters suddenly appeared to me: young girrrl rocker, Prozak, Arvin her father the scientist, Frankie, the platypus, and Blue, an ineffable spirit I’m still writing to try to catch up with them… especially Frankie who inserts himself into e-mails and daily discourse.

Comment from Frankie on 5/30/2008

Ah, Mudkipper, Mrs. to me, no doubt. It is indeed very interesting: me bird like reproductive system, and yolk making gene. And yet lactating genes like a human. Whilst my sex determination system is not completely understood, I want to assure you that am all male, (just so you know, Mrs. M.) The best links to learn more are:

which is striaght to the Gene Bank for me sister Glennie, whom they sequenced. From there you can access the abstract and the actual Nature article: journal/v453/n7192/full/nature06936.html

On the Nature site is a cunning video of a platypus gruntin' and swimmin' as we do (although I might add am more handsome) and Jenny Graves one of the lead scientists discussing the discoveries (she's a peach). There is however some disturbing museum taxodermy footage...

Another good summary is on that admamant aetheist's site:,2554,n,n

Hope this helps delve deeper into the ancient mud of who we are. We share alot of genes, Mrs. M... truly yr platy, Frankie

Comment from Mrs.Mudskipper on 5/20/2008

I've been loosely following the latest platypus genome publications and thought this was interesting... "the research contained some surprises, such as the conclusion that genes which determine sex in a platypus are similar to those of a bird, not a mammal. Researchers also found genes that indicate platypuses“ which rely on electrosensory receptors in their bills to navigate as they rummage with closed eyes in waterways“ may also be able to smell underwater."

Sounds pretty interesting - anyone have any links of interest?



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