• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of March 19, 1999

This week, facts about... the platypus, a creature both whimsical and fickle enough to be the mascot of early spring.

Transcript

CURWOOD: March 21st, aah, the first day of spring. So the promise is for warm days, with a bit of sleet and snow on the side sometimes if we live far enough north. The season is in constant flux, and if it had a mascot it might just be the platypus. This contradictory character, aptly named "the wingless wonder," is as whimsical as the first days of spring. The platypus lays eggs, but it suckles its young; has the bill of a duck but doesn't fly; walks like a reptile, swims like a fish, and has poison glands on its legs like some amphibians. Its classification took more than 85 years, as scientists fought to solve the mystery of its evolution. Some even dismissed the descriptions of the animal as a hoax. But the furry creature does indeed live. Its home is the freshwater of Australia, where it spends most of its life underwater hunting for food. The platypus uses its bill as a microphone to pick up the heartbeat of its prey. Today, scientists study the platypus in efforts to understand evolution, but Mother Nature has already given us the answer with springtime. Sometimes, she's just plain fickle. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

 

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.