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Australia’s natural selection oddities with Vsauce2 | Hyper History

Australia’s natural selection oddities with Vsauce2 | Hyper History


Hey! Kevin here, from the YouTube Science channel, Vsauce2. When European Naturalists first encountered the duck-billed platypus of Eastern Australia they thought it was a hoax. Some sewn-together mash-up. A practical joke. Because at first glance — the duck bill, beaver-like body, the webbed feet — this odd collection of features don’t seem to fit. But just because none of it makes sense to us, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense for the platypus. Or its environment. After all, evolution isn’t a beauty pageant — it’s a freak show. And the only prize is survival. First things first — platypuses don’t have nipples. They have mammary glands put no quote-unquote ‘teet.’ Instead they sweat milk from their stomachs. Well not their stomachs. They don’t have those. Their esophagus just drops straight down into their intestines. So I guess they sweat milk from their tummy? Which — mind you — doesn’t have a belly button. Because they lay eggs — one of only two mammals to do so — so they don’t need them. But honestly — who needs nipples when you have a venomous spur on your heel strong enough to kill an adult dog or incapacitate a grown human? Who needs good eyesight when you can hunt using electrical currents… with your duck-face… underwater. WHAT IS THIS THING?! WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? A platypus is many things. Boring it is not. Although they do sleep 14 hours a day… so there’s that… Being a platypus is sweet! Wish I was a platypus… The platypus is such a magnificent weirdo that it’s easy to miss the very specific set of circumstances that have allowed this tiny tweener to succeed. Geologically speaking, Australia is a unique place. After the continents split, it was the only major landmass to never experience an ice age. The continent itself has just been slowly drifting into warm, tropical water. In this way, it’s an incredibly CALM eco-system. An ecosystem where a half-blind, hybrid otter-duck, could thrive. And it’s not just the platypus. 86% of plants, 84% of mammals and 45% of birds found in Australia are not seen anywhere else. Monotremes. Marsupials. It’s home to some of the world’s rarest species. An island of misfit toys. It’s that old expression — a fish doesn’t stink under water. Who said that? Basically nothing’s weird, when everything is. And in that small and strange corner of the world, the duck billed platypus has found its niche. Its home. Its people. So, who’s weird now? Thanks for stopping by, And I’m out. Want more on the platypus? You gotta click here to explore Museum Victoria’s online exhibit that has all sorts of amazing content on this odd little guy. And be sure to subscribe to the Google Arts & Culture channel by clicking right here. Thanks.

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