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Giant platypus fossil unearthed

Posted on Tuesday, 5 November, 2013 | Comment icon 9 comments

The platypus has a highly unusual appearance. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 1.0 Peter Scheunis
Dubbed 'platypus-zilla', the ancient ancestor of today's platypus was thought to be over 1m in length.
The duck-billed platypus is undeniably one of the most unusual creatures ever discovered. With the body of a beaver, the beak of a duck and the feet of an otter it has all the hallmarks of several different animals stitched together. When European explorers first reported encounters with the creature it was widely considered to be an elaborate hoax.

Now the story of the platypus has gained a new chapter, a prehistoric ancestor that was much larger than its modern-day counterpart. The 3ft giant would have lived between five and 15 million years ago, raising new questions about the evolution of the species.

"Suddenly up pops 'playtpus-zilla' - this gigantic monstrosity that you would have been afraid to swim with," said Prof Mike Archer. "It indicates there are branches in the platypus family tree that we hadn't suspected before."

The giant platypus is thought to have eaten fish, crustaceans and turtles in an environment covered in thick forest and riddled with freshwater ponds.

Source: BBC News | Comments (9)

Tags: Platypus

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by supervike on 5 November, 2013, 1:46
3ft = a Godzilla comparison? That's some serious hyperbole.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Sir Wearer of Hats on 5 November, 2013, 7:48
Well when your average platypus is 1foot long and venomous, I'd say anything 3footish is worthy of "zilla-ising".
Comment icon #3 Posted by TheGreatBeliever on 5 November, 2013, 13:57
Every animal n insect in the past was large. U guyz can check it out here:
Comment icon #4 Posted by ealdwita on 5 November, 2013, 15:15
Well I'll be.... I honestly didn't know the platypus was venomous! Ya larns summatt evr'y blessed day, dontcha!
Comment icon #5 Posted by Taun on 5 November, 2013, 18:59
It's the spurs on their feet that have the poison, eald...
Comment icon #6 Posted by Sundew on 5 November, 2013, 20:16
Just the males, they have spurs on their hind legs for combating other male rivals. I saw a show on venom where someone picked up one that was sick or hurt and got jabbed, they said the pain was excruciating and lasted for days if I remember correctly, and nothing seemed to help alleviate the pain. That seems to be the purpose of the venom, make your opponent hurt enough, it will leave you alone and then you get the females. At one time some shrews were considered the only other venomous mammals, but the definition of venomous has been blurred a bit and other critters are now listed as such ... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by ealdwita on 6 November, 2013, 15:08
Thanks lads. It's nice to be the snippetee rather than the snippeter sometimes.
Comment icon #8 Posted by OverSword on 6 November, 2013, 19:23

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