the platypus

I am obsessed with the noble platypus.  Though not really part bird, the peculiarities of the platypus mean that it’s nearly as different from us normal mammals as we are from birds and reptiles.  I feel pretty alienated from my fellow mammals, too, which is probably why I consider the platypus my spirit animal! 

Besides the admittedly duck-like beak (which has its own version of radar), the platypus also lays eggs, suckles its young without the aid of nipples, and is the only mammal to produce venom!  Scientists also recently discovered fossils that indicate platypuses existed during the time of dinosaurs and survived the dino-holocaust pretty much unfazed.

 But now scientists have mapped the platypus genome, and discovered something even more remarkable–the platypus has ten, count ’em, ten different chromosomes that determine whether it’s male or female!

Like humans, platypuses carry an X and a Y chromosome. But unlike humans, the X and Y are not sex chromosomes. “That means we can go right back to the time when our sex chromosomes were just ordinary chromosomes minding their own business and ask, well, what happened? What made them into sex chromosomes?” Graves said.

The researchers revealed the animal has 52 chromosomes, including 10 sex chromosomes.

Ten sex chromosomes?!? Whoa, if platypuses ever develop a bar scene, you can bet they’d have some crazy cabaret shows!

prodigalsonnybono

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