The Duck-Billed Platypus: What is it and why does it have that name?

Duck-billed platypus
Look at them. Look at them! Also, thanks to Heinrich Harder (1858 – 1935) for this public domain picture.

As weird creatures go, the duck-billed platypus (also known as the platypus) is one of the weirdest looking. The beast is endemic to Australia and Tasmania and resembles a sort of overweight otter which has attached a poorly made looking bill to its face and has hacked off its limbs in favour of hairy fins. Truly, it’s one odd looking fella.

Indeed, when the creature was first encountered by European naturalists who stumbled across it, they presumed it was a hoax. Imagine that! You’re there after millions of years of evolution doing your thing and, okay, so you look pretty stupid but for whatever reason this has worked and your species isn’t extinct. Then humans come across you and consider you so shoddy looking you’re surely a work of fiction. Charming!

The Duck-Billed Platypus: What Happened?!

The peculiar appearance of the duck-billed platypus is one of nature’s true anomalies. How did a creature which should have looked more like an otter end up looking more like a deformed dog with a beak? Whatever, this beast has been successful in its habitat in Australia. This clearly indicates weirdness doesn’t inhibit natural selection. Indeed, maybe the weirder you are the more chance you have of survival.

But why did it end up looking like that? Was it evolution (which we all know is fake)? Or did the duck-billed platypus get stuck into some sick and sordid scheme which landed itself with a bill? We don’t know what the scheme was, but we’re betting it was so depraved and appalling that a bill was legislated which demanded the platypus have to wear that weird beak at all times.

Irrespective of this law, the duck thing has flourished in the wild and it seems even an atomic bomb couldn’t eradicate them from the face of the Earth. We don’t have any of these spare lying around (a duck nor a nuclear warhead), so you’ll have to trust us on this one.

Legacy

Despite our warbling, there is much to love about this total weirdo. As a species, humans are obsessed with finding aliens on some planet in the universe. Unless we discover a 50ft high hamster which can sing like Elvis and has the intellect of 50 million Einsteins, we feel we’re going to be disappointed.

Not here on Earth, though. We’re so infatuated with other planets we forget to look to our home planet (that’s Earth) for things such as the duck-billed platypus, a species so bizarre it’s unclear if it could look at itself in the mirror without bursting into fits of hysterics.

Thusly, we feel we should honour the platypus by building a plateau (that’s an area of fairly level high ground, if you’re wondering) and naming it the Platypus Plateau – a fine way to mark the beat’s legacy. It’s also a fine example of alliteration which, we feel, is most sadly in decline these days. For shame!

4 comments

  1. Definitely weird. I’ve been to Australia many times but never actually seen a live one. Possibly because platypusses (platipii?) spend very little of their time in bars sinking Schooners of Victoria Bitter (there is an excellent bar at the bottom of George Street in Sydney which I am pretty sure has never been visited by a platypus…).

    Liked by 1 person

    • As weird as some of the writing errors I made in this post! It’s been a long day. I do remember being taught about this creature at primary school 20+ years ago and it’s stuck with me. Platipii (I ‘m guessing) are cool beasts. It’s a shame we don’t have any exotic beasts in the UK, it’s just cows, sheep, and the Queen… oops, I’m pretty sure that’s sedition. I’m done for.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A fascinating mammal, to be sure! Yes, a mammal that lays eggs. Go figure?
    Would you eat a .. say … Platypus omelet? Yuch
    The males have sharp stingers on the heels of their rear feet and can use them to deliver a strong toxic blow to any foe. I wouldn’t want to meet up with one of these in a dark Aussie alley! Whew!

    Like

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