Futurity SubscriptionAustralia’s beaver-like platypus exhibits an array of bizarre characteristics: it lays eggs instead of giving birth to live babies; it sweats milk; has venomous spurs; and is the only animal to have 10 sex chromosomes. It has baffled scientists ever since Europeans first came upon it in the 1700s.
“The complete genome has provided us with the answers to how a few of the platypus’ bizarre features emerged. At the same time, decoding the genome for platypus is important for improving our understanding of how other mammals evolved—including us humans,” says Guojie Zhang, professor in the biology department at the University of Copenhagen.
“It holds the key as to why we and other Eutheria mammals evolved to become animals that give birth to live young instead of egg-laying animals.”
The platypus belongs to an ancient group of mammals —monotremes — which existed millions of years prior to the emergence of any modern-day mammal.