Fact Friday – Platypus

Today I let a friend choose what FF should be about because we’re stumped this week. It’s school holidays and even though Fysh doesn’t technically get a holiday all the other kids do so he’s been spending a lot of time with the neighbors etc which is great seeing as socializing and he’s having fun etc. But it means the only “schooling” we’ve done is the oobleck and a fun little game my dad used to make us do – when you’re out on the road you have to add up the numbers on the license plates and see who get’s to the answer first.

And that is how we came to the really random platypus topic. I’ve never really paid them much attention to be honest despite them being one of the most distinctive animals on earth. They’re weird little things and the most I’ve seen of them is agent P from Phineas and Ferb and clearly that’s a rather inaccurate representation so we took to googling these strange wackadoodles of nature.

Five Fabulous Facts :

  • A platypus’s bill is comprised of thousands of cells that can detect the electric fields generated by all living things. It’s so sensitive that the platypus can hunt with its eyes, ears, and nose all closed, relying entirely on the bill’s electrolocation.
  • Ancient animals were oversized monster versions of what we have now. And platypuses are no different. In 2013, based on the discovery of a single tooth, researchers identifieda prehistoric platypus that was over 3 feet long—double the size of the modern animal.
  • Platypuses don’t have teeth inside their bill, which makes it difficult to chew some of their favorite foods—but they have worked out a pretty ingenious solution. Along with worms, insects, shellfish, and whatever else these bottom-feeders scoop up to make a meal out of, the platypus also picks up gravel from the riverbed. The platypus packs the whole lot into pouches in his cheek to carry it up to the surface where he munches away, using the bits of gravel as makeshift teeth to break up some of the tougher food.
  • Unlike beavers, which have very visually similar tails, platypuses don’t use their tails to slap the water in warning, or even to propel them through the water. Most of the time, the primary function of the platypus tail is just to store up to half of the animal’s body fat in case of a food shortage.
  • The experts who first spotted the platypus considered it a mystery. Apart from looking like a Frankenstein’s monster patched together from discarded animal parts, it is also one of the few mammals that lay eggs. Humans, cows, and most other mammals give live birth, but this furry little abomination had to buck the trend and pop out its young in oval shells like some kind of rebel.