the duckbill platypus: genetic stool pigeon, lying dog, or snake in the grass?

Give us a kiss, you genetic abomination you! (Photo courtesy of Paddy Ryan)

Says here scientists have mapped the DNA makeup of the duckbill platypus—finally. The beast twists the already-vertiginous double-helix into an absolute evolutionary snarl, as it includes mammalian, reptilian, and avian genes. Fascinating stuff, no doubt.

(And by the way, why do we call it the duckbill platypus? Were there other, now-extinct platypi with beaks, fangs, probosci? Is there a zoological conspiracy to conceal this information?)

HOWever, there is one line that struck the National Evil:

Their work adds to the growing list of animals whose genetic makeup has been unraveled.

We all know this—we’ve heard about chimps and mice and sheep and whatnot—but the implications of that statement never occurred to me until now: why are they JUST getting to the platypus?

This is another perfect example of why I should have been born an eccentric, billionaire philanthropist. Say you were composing a top five list of animals for genetic decoding. How could a duckbill platypus not be in your “Holy crap, do this critter first!” list?

Okay, I understand—number one is the chimp. Our closest genetic blah blah blah. I get it. But after that?

Two? Platypus. A no-brainer. Come on. What the hell is that thing?

Three? Any reptile with limb-regeneration capabilities. We need to get on this, people!

Four? Pigs. Why does bacon taste so, so good? Can we work this into the DNA of other animals? So that, hey, while you’re cloning sheep, you can make them taste like bacon? Could their saliva taste like bacon grease?

Five? Mosquitoes. Because we haven’t made nearly enough progress in wiping them out. Isn’t there something in their genes we can exploit? Come on, they’re responsible for tens of millions of deaths, and we do almost nothing to fight back? We’re like the Washington Generals to their Harlem Globetrotters!

I would also consider the octopus, bat, spiny echidna, and C.H.U.D. as strong candidates. How about you?

Enjoy the weekend. If possible, mutate.

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17 thoughts on “the duckbill platypus: genetic stool pigeon, lying dog, or snake in the grass?”

  1. i realized i had been writing this blog for over a month without mentioning either the C.H.U.D. or the generals. i started to hyperventilate. the platypus saved me. viva le monotreme!

  2. (7am and my child, Siobhan wanted me to “google Platyus, Mommy!”)

    You’re article is FUNNY!! I liked when you said “what the heck” (okay I changed “hell ” to heck for her). The picture was great. I want my mommy to read this to me again and again!

    from Siobhan

  3. just came across this while searching for photos of platypuses. hilarious stuff! and i’m in total agreement! they’re my favourite species simply because they’ve got to be some kind of accident!

  4. Funny, just saw Phineas & Ferb and they have a platypus which is also a secret agent, had to look them up… they are great!

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