A question hidden in the platypus genome: Are we the weird ones?

Researchers have recently presented in the journal Nature the most complete platypus genome yet assembled. PHOTO: REUTERS
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

(NYTIMES) - 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?

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and straitstimes.com

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.