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“Do you think God gets stoned? I think so … look at the platypus!” – Robin Williams

When we need to name some animals, the platypus is probably not the first to strike anyone’s mind. Eighteenth century scientists didn’t believe platypuses existed even as they examined one. When a platypus skin arrived in England in 1798, biologists thought some prankster had sewn a duck’s bill, a beaver’s tail and four webbed feet onto a rabbit’s body and that the entire animal was a hoax. Darwin even went on several exhibitions to hunt this creature so that he could study it. In his words, the platypus was “wonderful.”

Platypuses are now regarded as the nearest thing biologists have to a missing link between the earliest reptiles and mammals. All this brings to mind an old joke about a zookeeper who wanted to order two of these animals but didn’t know how to express the plural form in his request. So he sent out a note which stated: “Please send me a platypus. And by the way, send me another.”