I was reading through Lonely Planet’s Bushwalking in Australia guidebook, learning all about the various flora and fauna (and googling everything at the same time ’cause they don’t have very many pictures), when I came across monotremes.
What’s a monotreme you ask?
That’s a very good question.
A monotreme is a mammal that lays eggs instead of giving birth the usual messy mammal way to a live animal.
Why is it called a monotreme?
Do you really want to know? “mono” as you’ve probably guessed means ‘one’. The “treme” part comes from “trema” meaning ‘hole’ — referring to the monotreme’s one butt-hole (formally known as the cloaca) where the urine, feces, eggs and sperm all exit from.
So why did I decide to write a post on monotremes when there are so many other cool things to write about (like the bunya pinecone that could probably knock you unconscious at up to seven kilograms per cone)? Well, because there are only two monotremes in existence and one of them happens to be the platypus!
Yes, I know the platypus is native to eastern mainland Australia and Tasmania (Lonely Planet, 1997) and not really a fan of the Great Barrier Reef. But, there are so many weird things about the platypus that I figured I’d just throw out a few tidbits of information out there.
Most people know that the platypus has a duck-like bill, but did you know that it’s soft? And has anyone ever wondered what its bill is for? I happen to believe that everything has a reason for being there and it turns out that the bill is electrosensitive, which allows the platypus to track its prey underwater. Heck, I always figured it was there to help it dig holes or something.
But, the scariest platypus factoid of all is (dun dun dun)…they’re venomous!! What the hell eh? I always thought the platypus was just a cute duck/beaver/weird aquatic thing that swam around and dug holes. I didn’t know they aren’t people friendly! According to Oz Trek, if a male platypus feels threatened, he’ll stab you with spurs in his hind legs and inject you with enough poison to kill a dog.
Good to know. Good. To. Know.