Thanks to TNC’s Justine E. Hausheer for this story:
Most of us are familiar with the bizarre and improbable platypus: a mammal that lays eggs, secretes milk from its skin, and defends itself with a venomous spur on its hind leg.
But the incredible little mammal wriggling in the net at my feet is all too real, and — like much of Australia’s iconic wildlife — it’s also in deep trouble. As urban development alters waterways, platypus populations are declining and their range is shrinking, putting the future of this wildlife wonder at risk.
“An Animal of All Time”
One Aboriginal story says that platypus originated from the union of a duck and a water-rat, which is rather apt. British naturalist George Shaw infamously thought the first platypus specimens sent back from Australia were a hoax, cutting the taxidermied corpse apart to try and find the stitching.
But the animal’s oddity afforded little protection from European settlers. Continue reading