When the body of a Duck-Billed Platypus first arrived in London in 1798, British scientists thought it was a hoax. It looked like someone had sewn a duck’s bill and feet onto the body of a beaver. But it was no joke – such an animal exists in Australia.
The Platypus gave biologists a problem. It was covered in fur and fed its young on milk like a mammal, but it laid eggs and had a bill like a bird. So, which was it? Opinion was divided.
Not surprisingly, opinion is also divided among our intrepid philosophical twins.
‘A bird. It’s got to be a bird. Just look at its bill. And anyway, no mammals lay eggs – it’s a well-known fact’ states Philip dogmatically.
‘No, it’s got to be a mammal’ countered Phoebe, looking up from her biology book. ‘It says here that the word “mammal” comes from the “mammary glands” with which mothers make milk to feed their babies. The Platypus has those, so it must be a mammal.’
Who is right? Philip or Phoebe? Is the Duck-Billed Platypus a bird or a mammal – or is it neither?
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