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The Platypus!!!

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256833.  Sat Jan 12, 2008 3:57 am Reply with quote

Hi everybody!!
Pages 148 and 149 I am surprised that the poisonous spur of the male platypus was not mentioned. Along with the shrew these are the only venomous mamals(the platypus can be counted as a sub order of mamals). Although rarely fatal, the spur of the platypus can leave a limb permanently disabled. Please correct me if I am wrong.

257276.  Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:35 pm Reply with quote

I'm moving this topic to the QI Animals forum - please make any further comments there.

King of Quok
257371.  Sun Jan 13, 2008 5:58 am Reply with quote

Not directly relevant, but on the subject of things venemous, there is only one poisionous bird genus known so far in the world. The variable pitohui (Pitohui kirhocephalus) and hooded pitohui (Pitohui dichrous) are native to New Guinea and have brightly coloured plumage that contains an alkaloid neurotoxin, believed to be obtained from their diet of bettles which contain the same batrachotoxin, and which form a possible defence against predators such as snakes.

257375.  Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:29 am Reply with quote

That's interesting - I'd never heard of a poisonous bird before. You really know your stuff on avians, KoQ

263746.  Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:08 pm Reply with quote

In addition to being venomous, it also is egg laying and has a bill, all features associated with reptlian/saurian forebears. Long before ducks developed their bills there were families of dinosaurs with bills (hadrosaurs among them and quite likely some had venom too if we believe Jurassic Park).
However, the Platypus' bill is also a sensory tool for detecting the electrical field generated by it's crustacean prey's nervous systems. Many ducks eat crustaceans, perhaps duck billed dino's did too?

King of Quok
263753.  Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:24 pm Reply with quote

Jurassic Park does rather tinker with science to put it mildly. The venomous, 'spitting' dinosaurs in both book and film are the carnosaurs Dilophosaurus; there is no evidence whatsoever to support the supposition the species was venomous, and the film also depicts them as considerbaly smaller than they would have been in real life. The hadrosaurs, such as Saurolophus, Parasaurolophus, Corythosaurus and Edmontosaurus, did have rudimentary dentition, which differentiated them from, and perhaps gave them an evolutionary advantage over the sauropod dinosaurs who relied on stomach-stones, or gastroliths, to grind up their food. Hadrosaurs have been a troublesome lot for palaeontologists; the function of the distinctive crests of many of them is still a matter for debate, and many genera have undergone name changes. Anatotitan ('giant duck') is the new name for Anatosaurus; Parasaurolophus is no longer believed to have used its huge crest as a 'snorkel' and Trachodon, one of the first discovered, has been more or less thrown out, after the teeth were found to be a mixture of ceratopsion and hadrosaurid.

Sorry, none of this is really relevant to the platypus! I got carried away.

264170.  Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:55 am Reply with quote

On the Platypus. I went to Oz for 3 months last year and decide I would use my time to travel around in an old campervan and view all those strange Australian animals in the wild...

It was fantastic! Whether it's because there are so few natural predators I don't know but so many animals in Australia are easy to get close to in the wild.

Anyway, in short, I ticked off my whole list except for the Platypus- which I had to view in captivity.

Sitting at dawn near watercourses in the season I was relliably informed would see them active and breeding gave me absolutely nothing!

Cool and freaky birdy beaky furry fish dogs. That, you'll find, is their true classification.

264179.  Wed Jan 23, 2008 8:07 am Reply with quote

apparently, the dilophosaurus in jurassic park was based on australia's frill necked lizard, or frillies as we call them here. they're the ones that frill their neck out and run on their back legs with mouth agape, quite comical. it's good if you get them in your garden as they eat the insect beasties you don't want.

skating back onto topic:

i've seen platypus in the wild which is not that common these days. mr reddy and i watched it for quite a while, it was lovely. they have a covering that goes over their eyes in the water, so perhaps thats why their bill evolved to be so sensitive. they belong to the family of monotremes, egg laying marsupials, of which the echidna is also a member.

and skating off topic again:

i've also seen an echidna, and not really in the wild - it was in the playground near my house when i was a small person. there was bush nearby at the time, but it was still unusual to see it in an urban area.

and even further:

i wasn't aware that parasaurolophus' crest was considered to be a snorkel!!! my books are pretty recent though.... 0n doing a bit of searching, research has shown that the crest doesn't have a hole for breathing underwater, that's why that theory has been discounted. i always understood that it most likely used for making noises for attracting mates or signaling.

edit: my books give no reference to the trachodon, i had to look it up on the net, and the references swing between just describing it, and saying is of "dubious genus". righto then.


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