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Old April 24th, 2016 #1
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Default Why 19th-Century Naturalists Didn't Believe in the Platypus

Why 19th-Century Naturalists Didn't Believe in the Platypus

Scientists argued for 90 years about the animal's freaky looks.

George Shaw's depiction of a duck-billed platypus from 1809.

In his laboratory study in 1799, biologist George Shaw stared down at his new specimen in disbelief. The creature from the colony of New South Wales came preserved in pungent alcohol, and he carefully snipped the thick, brown pelt around the creature’s beak, sure he would soon reveal the stitches where an expert taxidermist had fused the bird and beast together. It was like nothing he had seen before: the creature had the body of a furry brown cat, four short legs and sharp claws over webbed feet; the tail of a beaver, but the beak of a duck.


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