Saturday, 2 February 2008
Platypus lived with Dinosaurs
Duck-billed platypus. Image: Wikipedia
The Duck-billed platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is an enigmatic creature that defies simple classifications. It is a mosaic that differs considerably from all other known animals. It is a mammal with a duck’s bill, a rather long tail and webbed feet. Females do not give birth to live offspring but baby platypuses start their wanderings by cracking an egg open.
It was thought that the platypus, which currently only lives in Australia and Tasmania, and closely related species separated from a common ancestor some 17-65 million years ago. But a new study shows that this view is incorrect. According to National Geographic News, a research team led by Timothy Rowe at the University of Texas in Austin used CT scanning to examine a jaw bone of the species Teinolophos. It was supposed that Teinolophos, which is said to have lived 112.5 to 122 million years ago, was the ancestor present-day platypuses.
The study revealed that the animal had the same kind of capacity to sense its prey with an electric receptor in its nose as a platypus. The researchers concluded that what they thought was a Teinolophos jawbone actually belonged to a platypus. In other words, platypuses already lived with the dinosaurs.
Recently, New Scientist wrote about Chinese salamanders that were said to have lived over 100 million years before the advent of Tyrannosaurus rex. The salamander, which can be approximately 1.8 metres (about six feet) long, is an endangered species, but it still lives in China.
Many animal species seem to remain surprisingly similar for eons, resisting change into other species. Might this have to do something with the fact that God created all animals according to their kinds?
Brahic, Catherine. 2008. Top 100 weirdest amphibians list launched. New Scientist 21 January 2008.
Norris, Scott. 2008. Platypus Much Older Than Thought, Lived with Dinos. National Geographic News. 22 January 2008.