Posted by on Aug 6, 2009 in Interesting Facts | 1 comment

0025-venemous-mammals

The Duck-Billed Platypus is a strange bird. First, it’s not a bird. Secondly, it’s one of only two mammals that lays an egg. Thirdly, it’s one of only two mammals that can sense electric fields generated by muscle movement. And fourthtacularly, one of only three mammals that produce venom. Let’s run with that one.

The Duck-Billed Platypus (and there are no non-duck-billed platypus, but it’s called that cuz the platypus name was already taken be some beetle… Platypus, by the way, means ‘flat foot’) has sharp spurs on it’s back legs that can stab and inject a venom. It’s not intended to kill, but to immobilize and cause a whole schwack of pain. Because it’s only found on male platypus, and production increases during mating season, scientists believe that the intention might be to stick it to other males and take them out of the dating pool. (which gave me a great idea, but turns out it’s illegal)

For the record, the plural of platypus is platypus. Platypuses is also acceptable, but trying to be fancy with platypi would just make you look silly. Technically, the proper Greek plural would be platypodes.

As for the other venomous mammals, there’s actually three varieties of shrew which have venomous saliva. So they bite a mouse, it dies. Whoop-dee-doo. Boring. Let’s move on.

The very rare, and thus, much more interesting Cuban Solenodon sounds like a cigar-smoking dinosaur, but isn’t. It’s actually quite similar to a shrew (yawn) and same deal with the venomous saliva. The neat bit is that this beasty was discovered in 1861, and by 1970 was thought to be extinct… having not been seen for 80 years! It’s been spotted a few times in the last few decades, but overall, only 36 have ever been caught.