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Časoris
Kljunaši lahko zrastejo tudi do 50 centimetrov. Vir: Wikipedia
Kljunaši lahko zrastejo tudi do 50 centimetrov. Vir: Wikipedia

A mammal that lays eggs, »sweats« milk and has no teeth?

This animal is the platypus and only lives in Australia.

It’s a partially aquatic carnivore with venomous claws. It has a beak resembling a duck, short legs with swimming skin between the toes and a flattened tail resembling a beavers.

It thus appears to be a series of different species, and is considered the most interesting of animals.

It’s classified as a mammal, but has many properties that distinguish it from mammals.

Mladiči se izvalijo iz jajc in so nekaj mesecev popolnoma odvisni od matere. Vir: Flickr
Pups hatch from the eggs and are completely dependent on the mother for a few months. Source: Flickr

The pups hatch from the egg and thus become completely dependent on the mother for a few months.

Platypuses, for example, lay eggs, although mammals are meant to give birth to offspring. Their pups are different from birds as they start feeding on their mother’s milk.

They secrete milk through the skin all over the body. Usually mammals only secrete it through the nipples.

They feed on small aquatic animals, but unlike most mammals, they have no teeth. They have only two plates in their beak with which they grind food.

Because the platypus is such an unusual animal, a Copenhagen scientific team will research its entire genetic record to determine the origin of its traits.

»From a genetic point of view, the platypus is actually a mixture of mammals, birds and reptiles, although we classify it as a mammal,« says professor Guojie Zhang. »The genetic record will help us understand why other mammals give birth to their offspring and platypuses hatch them in their eggs.«

Zaradi dobre varovalne barve se ga v vodi težje opazi. Vir: Wikipedia
Due to its good protective color, it is more difficult to notice in water. Source: Wikipedia

Because of their similarities to different species, platypuses are very interesting regarding studying evolution.

They can help us understand the kinship of different animals and our common ancestor.

In the past, they were hunted for their fur and nearly exterminated. Today, due to their low numbers, they are classified as a protected species, and are not currently threatened with extinction.

Glossary

Gene is a record on our DNA and encodes a specific trait.

Points to Consider

  1. Do you know any unusual animals?
  2. Why is the study of evolution important?
  3. Do we have any protected species in Slovenia?

***

The original version of this article was published on March 10th.

English translation courtesy of JL FlannerTotal Slovenia News, an English language website with news from and about Slovenia.

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