When British zoologist George Shaw first encountered a platypus specimen in 1799, he was so befuddled that he checked for stitches, thinking someone might be trying to trick him with a Frankencreature. It is hard to blame him: What other animal has a rubbery bill, ankle spikes full of venom, luxurious fur that glows under black light and a tendency to lay eggs?
Centuries later, we are still trying to tease the platypus apart, now with subtler tools. What we find may lead us to ask: Is the platypus normal, and are we the thing that turned out strange?
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