Friday, March 6, 2015

Extreme Monotremes - pt. 2: The Platypus

Well, it's finally March. As I suspected, this year is going to fly so fast we won't even know when it's 2016! Things are going pretty well on my end of the world. Drama rehearsal is going as expected (we're about four weeks out). By the way, don't forget to set your clocks forward an hour, because Daylight Savings Time is this Sunday at 12:00 am!

Days till:
It is: 11 days till St. Patrick's Day
It is: 14 days till the first day of Spring
It is: 26 days till April Fool's Day

In the Spotlight:
Last year, (almost) everyone's favorite movie of all time, Frozen stole the hearts of audiences world-wide. I mean, who couldn't like that movie? Even a lot of guys like me like it. It's very different from your typical Disney movie with princesses in it. And the romance is much more realistic (I mean, pretty much all the other Disney princess movies have the princess and prince charming fall in love on sight and then they get married and live happily ever after. That is NOT how romance works, last I checked!). Well, fans of Frozen can be excited about the sequel coming in theaters on March 13 with the movie Cinderella called Frozen Fever. Here is the trailer:

Can't wait! Maybe we'll hear Let It Go! again?

In other news, according to, not only is the post-production of Jurassic World in full swing (it better be, since the film releases June 12!), but a little work is even being done on Jurassic World's sequel! You read that right! They're already planning the sequel! They won't focus primarily on this project till after Jurassic World is released of course, but it is expected to come into theaters in 2018. It's nice awesome to see that they're going ahead with their plans to really bring the Jurassic Park franchise back from extinction!

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan

This platypus is undoubtedly the weirdest among God's creation!
Two weeks ago, we started a series about some of the strangest creatures God has ever created: monotremes. As I have already revealed, monotremes are different from every other mammal on the planet because, unlike most mammals, they lay eggs. The first part in my series focused on one of the only two living types of monotremes: the echidna. Today, we're going to look at the strangest of the two monotremes: the duck-billed platypus.

Like the echidna, the semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal Ornithorhynchus anatinus makes its home in Australia's lakes, streams, ponds and rivers, specifically in eastern part of the continent, and in Tasmania, an island just south of Australia. They grow 15 inches from bill-to-tail (five inches of this being the tail) and can weigh about three pounds. This mammal is covered in dark brown fur on the top side, but have lighter colored fur on the underside.

The Ornithorhynchus anatinus makes its home in Australia's lakes, streams, ponds and rivers.
It is easy to think that the platypus looks like the result of some strange Frankenstein-esque science experiment. After all, the platypus has features of several different animals (the duck, beaver and otter). In fact, this is exactly what scientists originally thought! When the first specimen of a platypus was shipped back to Britain from Australia by Captain John Hunter in 1799, it was thought to be an elaborate hoax! They believed body parts of different animals were stitched together to create one animal! Even after it was confirmed to be a real animal, people were confused about its classification (due to the fact that it lays eggs) before finally deciding it was a mammal. As we'll later find out, the platypus was wonderfully designed with the ability to thrive the way God wanted it to.

When a specimen was brought to England in 1799, people actually thought it was a clever hoax.
Today, there is only one species of platypus, but at one time, four species were known to swim through ancient waterways. One species, Steropodon, made its home in the world before the Genesis Flood. This ancient cousin of Perry the platypus lived alongside the dinosaurs and was about the size of its modern relative. And just like the modern platypus, it lived in what is now Australia in the Cretaceous ecosystem. Perhaps one of the most impressive platypus was Obdurodon tharaklooschild, which grew up to three feet long!

This is the skull of Obdurodon, the giant extinct platypus.

Steropodon is a pre-Flood extinct platypus that lived in Cretaceous Australia.
You can't look at the platypus without staring in bewilderment at its duck-like mouth parts. It might make this mammal look bizarre, but the platypus' bill is very important to the creature's survival. You see, the platypus is typically a bottom-feeder, consuming insects and their larvae, shellfish, freshwater shrimp, worms. However, they will also eat frogs and fish. (Obdurodon is thought to have consumed frogs and turtles!) Their duck-shaped bills are used as shovels to excavate their food from the mucky river bottom. After capturing a prey item, it stuffs it into its cheeks until it decides to swim to the water's surface to consume it. As (modern) platypus lack teeth, they use bits of gravel that they collected while collecting food to grind up their aquatic meal.

The flat bill is clearly seen in this skeleton of a platypus.
The platypus is one of nature's perfect underwater swimmers. Its duck-like webbed feet help it to paddle through the water, assisted by that beaver-like tail. The platypus' otter-like fur is watertight, keeping it warm, and can hold its breath for a minute or two. Even its eyes, ears and nostrils are made to close, thanks to special folds of skin to keep water out. This presents a problem though: if a platypus can't see, hear or smell underwater, how does it find its food? God already had this problem solved 6,000 years ago when He first made the platypus! For finding food, what better tool to use than your mouth, especially if it happens to be a wonderful bill. See, it might resemble a duck's bill, but unlike this bird, the bill of a platypus is relatively soft and covered in electroreceptors and mechanoreceptors. These “receptors” pick up the electrical frequencies given off by living things. Since, as living things, the prey of the platypus gives off electrical frequencies, this duck-billed mammal can literally home in on its prey. Cool, huh?

Platypus are able to pick up the electrical fields given off by their prey; this way, it is able to locate its next meal without seeing, smelling or hearing it.
Despite being designed for a watery lifestyle, platypus, as I mentioned before, are only semi-aquatic. They're mostly active at night, so platypus spend most of the day in burrows near the riverbank that they've dug out themselves, using the sharp claws on their hands and feet.

During most of the day, platypus usually rest in burrows until nightfall.
As amazing as this Australian mammal is, none of its survival features we've mentioned so far will do it any good if all members of its species become food for predators. Common predators of the platypus are eagles, goannas, hawks, owls, snakes, water rats, and in northern Australia, crocodiles. To escape predation, platypus can get into the safety of their burrows or swim away using their tail and webbed feet. But male platypus are gifted with a very special defense mammals are typically not thought to have – venom! That's right! The male platypus is one of only a small handful of venomous mammals (one other being the American short-tailed shrew). The male platypus has a venom gland in the horny spurs of the back of its feet that it uses to inject the toxic venom. Platypus venom has been known to cause terrible pain in humans, but death in smaller animals, such as dogs.

Male platypus have a spur that injects venom into potential predators.
As a monotreme, the platypus lays eggs, instead of having live young. Female platypus haul themselves into their burrows to lay one or two eggs. To keep the eggs warm, the mother holds them between her body and flat tail until they are ready to hatch. The eggs hatch about ten days after being laid. When born, the platypus infants are the size of lima beans and are completely helpless, relying on their mother's care until they are three or four months old. As with the echidna, platypus don't have teats, so the mother allows her milk to “sweat” out through pores in the skin. After the platypus are three or four months old, they leave their mother to find a territory of their own, as they're solitary creatures (however, the territory of a male platypus will overlap with the territories of three or four females; a platypus' territory can be up to 4.4 miles in size).

Did you know that the platypus can produce a low growling noise to vocalize...kind of like Perry the platypus!
Semi-aquatic, egg-laying, duck-billed, webbed-footed, beaver-tailed and venomous – the platypus is one of God's strangest creations. There are no creatures on earth like extreme monotremes!

On Day 6, God created the weirdest mammal ever: the platypus!

Disclaimer: Many (or in some cases all) of the photographs and images above are not mine. If you own one or more of them and would like them to be removed, politely let me know via my email address.

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