May 8, 2008

Duck-billed platypus is dismissed by Oxford scientists as daffy

When the first duck-billed platypus specimens were sent from Australia to Europe at the end of the 18th century, the bizarre combination of mammal, bird and reptile features led many zoologists to consider them a hoax.

The reason for that first impression has now been revealed: the first analysis of its DNA code has shown that at a genetic level the platypus is indeed a unique amalgam of mammal, reptile and bird.


“This is our ticket back in time, to when all mammals laid eggs while suckling their young on milk,” said Chris Ponting, of the University of Oxford, one of the leaders of the international research team.

“The platyus genome is extremely important, because it is the missing link in our understanding of how we and other mammals first evolved.”

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