Friday, May 15, 2020

Vive Les Differences!

Thought for the day: Do you think God gets stoned? I think so... look at the platypus. [Robin Williams]

[image: wikipedia]
You ever feel like you're moving in slow motion? Unmotivated and more than a little lazy?

(ahem) Yeah, me neither.

Who am I kidding? Lately, I feel like my inner self is turning into a sloth.

Not that I don't appreciate the sloth, mind you... I do. With that Chewbacca-like long hair and those diva-like long nails, it's a veritable glamour queen of the animal world, and it undeniably marches to the beat of its own drummer. A verrrry slow beat. But as much as I appreciate the sloth, one of the animals I appreciate even more is the wonderful, amazing, totally unique duck-billed platypus. Talk about individuality! I dunno if Robin Williams was right to say God was stoned when he created the platypus, though. I prefer to think of the platypus as being the manifestation of a great sense of humor.

[image: wikipedia]
I mean, really. Think about it. The platypus has clawed feet in the rear, webbed feet in front, a beaver-like tail, otter-like fur, and a soft pliable duck-like bill. Believe it or not, this unusual-looking guy shares DNA with mammals, birds, AND reptiles. It's as though he were made from a bunch of spare parts, all thrown together willy-nilly. (The original case of cosmic recycling?)



I like the duck-billed platypus
Because it is anomalous.
I like the way it raises its family,
Partly birdly, partly mammaly.
I like its independent attitude
Let no one call it a duck-billed platitude. [Ogden Nash]





Um, then again, maybe the platypus wasn't one of the original animals from the get-go. Maybe there was a little bit of (ahem) hanky panky taking place on that ark...








Alas, most of us will never have the pleasure of seeing a duck-billed platypus in person, although it's one of those bucket list kinda things for me. You folks in Australia might not even ever see one in the wild, because they're pretty introverted and vant to be alone most of the time. But at least you guys have the option of seeing them in your zoos and conservation facilities. (Lucky you!)

Some interesting fun facts about the platypus:
  • They don't have stomachs! (So that's how they stay so slim...) Instead, like fish, they have a gullet that connects directly to their intestines.
  • Their bills are covered with thousands of super-sensitive cells that detect the electric fields of other critters... kinda like a sixth sense. When a platypus goes underwater, a protective flap of skin covers his eyes and ears, making him both blind and deaf, but his bill more than makes up for it. That handy dandy electrolocation ability in his bill takes over and allows him to zero right in on his prey.  
  • They're one of only two egg-laying mammals in the world. (The other is the echidna, also native to Australia.) And although they lactate, they have no nipples! What they do have are mammary glands, and their babies simply suck the milk from their mother's abdominal skin or fur.
  • The males have a venomous spur on each hind leg, which is only activated during mating season, presumably to prevent other amorous males from getting too chummy with their ladies. 
[image of spur: wikipedia]
  • The webbing on their front feet is retractable. It helps them swim in the water... using their front legs, like a doggy paddle... and then retracts on land to reveal sharp claws.
  • They have no teeth. The adults don't, anyway. (Babies have tiny teeth, but they don't last long, and once they fall out, they don't grow new ones.) They scoop up gravel from the river bottom to use as makeshift teeth to grind their food. Pretty cool, huh?
  • Their tails may look like beaver tails, but they serve a different purpose. Platypuses don't use them to slap the water as a warning, like beavers do. Nearly half of their body's fat is stored in the tail... kinda like a back-up pantry... and it serves as a food source during times of scarcity. Moms also shelter their incubating eggs against their warm bodies with those tails. 
  • Know what platypus babies are called? Puggles! Isn't that adorable? Wouldn't you love to snuggle with a puggle...? (They're such spiffy dressers!)

                                    Is it any wonder I'm so enamored of these creatures?



In December of 2019, there were so many duck-billed platypuses in Australia, they were deemed common. (As if!) Sadly, as of January of this year, they've joined the ranks of endangered species, due largely to drought and wildfires. Thankfully, there are many people dedicated to saving them... like these folks with the Taronga Zoo in Sydney:



If you're like me, that isn't NEARLY enough footage of these critters. So how about  a little bit more?



There are sooooo many incredible, awe-inspiring creatures in this world of ours, but to me, the duck-billed platypus is in a class by itself. Truly unique, in every sense of the word... kinda like... us! So I say embrace your differences, people! Celebrate the unique! You may not have the privilege of being a platypus, but, by golly, YOU are the only YOU in the entire world. Like the platypus, you are truly one of a kind.


Oh, yeah! I almost forgot. Did you ever wonder what a platypus sounded like? Well... wonder no more:
                                                                   
                                                                (You're welcome!)

                                  Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

45 comments:

  1. They are amazing critters aren't they?
    The ones that were being housed/supported by staff at Taronga Zoo have now come home to Tidbinbilla (a nature reserve very close to me). And I have been lucky enough to see them there!!!
    When the first European explorers send a stuffed platypus back to England for study the initial consensus was that it was a joke. And the joke was on them. Yet another victory for science and nature.

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    1. How wonderful that you've seen them in person! (Maybe if you visit the reserve again, you could take a picture or two for your blog...?)

      I've read that about the folks in Europe thinking it was a fraud when they first saw the stuffed platypus, but can ya blame them? :)

      Take care, dear lady.

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  2. A fun and interesting post about a wonderful animal. It cracked me up that it can make its own custard, too funny. Thanks for a witty and fun post. Hugs, Valerie

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  3. Hi Susan - I've always loved platypuses (or is it platypii) ... delighted to see you step over the line to 'vive les differences' - I cannot stand doing what everyone else does ... follow the crowd, preferably never - but occasionally yes, I have to!

    It's good to see EC's comment that they are back in their own reserve ... and she can on occasions see them. Nature is quite extraordinary ... in all its glory and variations.

    Always love your posts ... good to see you posting - and hope all well ... take care and stay safe - Hilary

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    1. Hi-ya, Hilary.

      We're both right. Platypuses and platypi are both acceptable.

      I firmly believe people, no matter where we live, what we do, or what we look like, share a preponderance of things in common, but I also believe in embracing our differences. Life wouldn't be nearly as interesting if everyone were exactly the same.

      Thank you. You take care and stay safe, too. Cheers!

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  4. Just amazing all the features it has. Funny it's called the duck billed platypus. What other kind of platypus is there?

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  5. the platypus is pretty darn goofy. And I LOVE sloths, I am a sloth, I shall be a sloth this rainy weekend. Have a good one, my friend!

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    1. As one sloth to another, have a wonderful weekend, dear lady.

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  6. To have all of that there had to be some true hanky panky going on on that ark indeed lol Going blind and deaf yet not is weird. It is just weird to begin with. Be fun to see one though.

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    1. Yep, it's definitely a weird critter, hanky panky or not. :)

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  7. I laughed out loud at the cartoon about the ark! And how adorable are those puggles! :)

    The part about the teeth is fascinating. You're totally right - the world is full of amazing creatures.

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    1. Cool. I really like that cartoon, too. :)

      Yep, lots of amazing creatures, including your tortoises.

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  8. Just their name is fun to say. You know how some things in your childhood stand out and you can remember them like it was yesterday ( although, yesterday may not be as clear now). When I was a kid in the 50s, we did not live that far from the Bronx Zoo (a half hour bus ride or an hour walk - which my mother preferred). The zoo has a Platypus pair. We were so excited, especially my mom, and she even sprang for us all taking the bus. I remember clearly, how wonderful it was to see them and how much fun we had that day. A wonderful memory, never forgotten.

    Unique, yes, all God’s creatures, are blessed with their own individuality and how wonderful that is. If only we could embrace them or at least try to understand their uniqueness.

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    1. Oh, wow! How cool that you were able to see the platypuses when they were at the Bronx Zoo. I'd hoped that the National Zoo in D.C would get some at some point, but no such luck. Now, the only place in the U.S. with any platypuses is the San Diego Zoo. They got them at the end of last year, but with the coronovirus closing everything down, I don't reckon too many people have had the opportunity to see them yet.

      I'd prefer if we all learned to embrace our differences, but attempting to understand them would be a terrific first step. Take care, sweet lady.

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  9. I love my spirit animal the sloth. But wow. I faintly recall my favorite (early) childhood book was about the platypus. This information is truly fascinating. Pretty sure I'd have paid more attention and done better in school, had you been teaching the class.

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    1. It's cool that you had a book about platypuses when you were a little girl. I didn't but if I did, I'm sure it would've been one of my favorite books, too.

      Well, thank you! That's a very sweet thing to say. Take care, and have a super weekend.

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  10. This post made me smile. Thank you.

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  11. Blessings.....
    We all have "sloth" days. Its part of the cycle of life experiences. The platypus huh, I don't think until today I gave much thought to it. Very interesting indeed.

    Have a great day.
    rhapsody

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    1. Blessings back atcha.

      I'm used to being more like a bouncy chihuahua, so it's very weird to feel so much like a sloth. :)

      You have a great day, too. Oh what the heck... have a great weekend!

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  12. Well, I learned a lot about this unusual creature. Thanks for an interesting and fun post. Hope you have a nice weekend!

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  13. Thank goodness we are all unique and beautiful in our own way. There are no two of us alike. I can however relate to that chewbacca hair you mentioned. I do how ever have an appointment to get it cute May 21st. My hair stylist will finally be back in business and when it gets to be time for me to go out in the world once again, I'll look a whole lot better than I do now.

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    1. Lots of us have Chewbacca hair these days. I, however, took a pair of scissors to my hair a short while ago. In retrospect, that probably wasn't a very good idea. One thing I learned: my hair-cutting talents haven't improved very much since the first time I butchered it when I was four years old. :)

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  14. OK, that platypus origin theory made me laugh!

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  15. We are huge platypus fans ! Along with some other animals that people seem not to like or don't understand.
    In Junior High Daughter wrote a book and illustrated it about Platypus. Her origin story is very heartfelt and wonderful. Made me cry.
    parsnip

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    1. I suspect we share a love of some of the same animals... like armadillos and manatees. I even like moles! (They have the cutest little feet...)

      How wonderful that your daughter wrote about the platypus. If her story made you cry, she must be one creative and very talented writer. :)

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  16. I haven't seen a platypus in years, last time I was at the zoo they were hiding or something so I had to watch the otters instead. I've NEVER seen a baby platypus hatching, so thanks for that. I heard they came about because God had left over bits after making all the other animals, so he put them together instead of wasting them.

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    1. Sorry the platypuses weren't being cooperative the last time you visited the zoo, but otters are fun to watch, too. They're sooooo playful!

      Yep, makes sense! Waste not, want not... :)

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  17. A truly magnificent creature :-) And role model! xxx

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  18. Sorry, am not much in Blogger Land lately … but sending greetings, friend Sue:) Love, c.

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    1. Uh-oh. I hope you're okay, sweet lady. Thanks for stopping in to say howdy. It's always good to hear from you. Take care of yourself.

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  19. I like that origin of the platypus.

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  20. Checking in - and hoping that you and Smarticus are ok.

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  21. I loved the sloth photo at the top. As soon as I saw it, I thought of my daughter who is obsessed with sloths. She has one in her car window. ;) But I'm thinking you may have found the new "it" animal with the platypus. Maybe I should write a story featuring one. Or even better - one with a platypus and sloth. LOL! Hope you're doing well!

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  22. Like Sue (Elephant’s Child), I am just checking in to see if you and Smarticus are OK.

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  23. "Call of the Platypus" clip brought back some mid-'60s memories. Did you ever try to cross a shallow creek on a Honda-50?

    EC and Jon have communicated concern to me about Smarticus. You furnished so much cheerful reading during my stressful illnesses that any threat to your optimism is of concern to me -- to us all. I wish you strength, health, safety.

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  24. That was a fascinating read about an interesting creature, they're so cute!

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  25. Thinking of you and your husband, friend Sue … 1700hrs … every day. Love, cat.

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  26. Adding my care to this kindly list, Susan xxx

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