So cool! Animals are like so evolutionary and COOL! Especially on how they evolved over time. Well, but I have not actually seen a real, live platypus before. Unless you count on videos and such. I wish I could see one real soon! I lurv animals!!!
Reconstruction by Peter Schouten
Published November 4, 2013
What's cooler than a venomous, duck-billed mammal that lays eggs? A giant one—and that's just what researchers have found.
A newly discovered species of three-foot-long (one-meter-long) platypus, dubbed Obdurodon tharalkooschild, swam through freshwater pools in Australian forests about 5 to 15 million years ago, according to a new study. That's a much bigger critter than a modern-day platypus, which at 15 inches (38 centimeters) long is about the size of a small domestic cat.
The limestone fossils were stowed in a cupboard and forgotten until study leader Rebecca Pian, a Ph.D. student at Columbia University in New York City, pulled them out in 2012 while studying at Australia's University of New South Wales.
One tooth struck her as odd: It was bigger than any known platypus tooth. After closer study, "I said, 'Wait a second, not only is it quite big, it's quite different as well,'" Pian remembers. When she showed it to study co-author Mike Archer, he immediately agreed it was new.
For instance, the tooth clearly had the unique shape known to belong only to platypus teeth. But it also had bumps and ridges never before seen in the group. To estimate the size of the animal the tooth came from, Pian and colleagues compared the tooth with other platypus teeth and made a rough extrapolation of the size of the new species.
It was bigger than any platypus known before. The team had just shaken up platypus evolution.
Filling in the Gaps
The ancient platypus belongs to a tiny group of egg-laying mammals called monotremes, of which only three modern species remain: the platypus and two species of echidna, all of which are found in Australia and New Guinea. (See "Platypus Genome Reveals Secrets of Mammal Evolution.")
Only four extinct platypus species have been discovered, each in different periods of time, leading scientists to believe that either there are huge gaps in the fossil record or the platypus family tree is simply not very diverse. Part of the problem is that most of the time, only the teeth with their hardy enamel survive the wear and tear of time.
Now, with the discovery of O. tharalkooschild, researchers know that "the evolution of the platypus is potentially more complicated than we thought," said Pian, whose study was published in the November issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
That's because its larger size and possibly more carnivorous teeth suggest it had a different diet from other platypuses—which mostly eat soft invertebrates—possibly taking on bigger prey such as frogs, Pian said. Such a hearty diet may have also been why the newfound platypus was so big, she added.
The fact that the ancient species had such a big tooth was surprising, since older platypus fossils have suggested they evolved smaller and fewer teeth over time. Today's platypus, for example, only has teeth as a youngster. Later in life, an adult chews its soft prey using horny pads in its mouth. (Watch a video about platypus evolution.)
It's even possible the new fossil platypus was part of a now-extinct side branch of the main platypus lineage.
"This seems like a solid piece of research—if I'd found it, I'd have given it a new name as well," noted Timothy Rowe, director of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory at the University of Texas, Austin.
Platypus teeth are so "exceedingly unique" that it's clear the new tooth is from a platypus, added Rowe, who wasn't involved in the new study.
The paleontologist also said the finding reinforces that "we don't really know" a lot about the evolution of platypuses and echidna.
But, he said, "we're starting to fill in some of the gaps, and that's always a happy thing."
Amazing world.The powerful world can creat many kinds of animals.We should protect them.They are one of member in the world.
I'm looking forward to seeing photographs of the next amazing creature that has not yet been discovered.
hey Grace H I am doing this for a current event also thats boss!! sorry guys im kinda hyped this is so cool and im in a good part in my book ......... i am SUCH A NERD
wow very cool. are there any follow up studies? It'd be great if National Geographic posted relevant links to articles bearing further analysis or detail.
this site asked me three times for my email and password to get on here. I think it is kinda ridiculous because now it is just one more password i have to remember. That is just my opinion. But this article is pretty darn cool, I'm gonna do it for my current event for school :)
i think this is true but at the same time i think its fake can you post of the body and then we will see if bigger than the other platypus
how do you know that they lived 5-15 million years ago and not 500-1000 years ago & how do know that the tooth found is even from a platypus and some other type of creature
If you found this story interesting, please visit Taylor & Francis Online to read the full research article about 'Platypus-zilla' - http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2013.782876
@Zebedee C. Or, conversely, of natures' brilliance, regardless of any human concept of a deity. Religious ideas in my opinion, belittle the true scope and majesty of nature.
@Grace Cole A current event for school? If so, what school do you go to? I'm not a stalker I am just using this for a current event too.
@Grace H im doing this for a current event too :)
@Grace H Hi I think its cool that we are both doing a current event cuz' i dunno just there are so many school assighnments out there and we have the same one and we are using this one..... cool chiz
@Grace H me too! Had to set up a new email account and jump through all kind of hoops just to read a couple of new articles each week.
Same here. Wouldn't take my old password; when I tried a new one, it was rejected over and over, even though it fit their criteria. When I finally give up, I find out I'm logged in. It shouldn't be a mystery tour to get into this place...or should it? Hmmm.
@Jonathan Hernandez IT'S EXTINCT! THEY FOUND ONLY A TOOTH THAT WAS PART OF A FOSSIL. SRRY CAPS LOCK.
@Harry Mikolowski Mammal teeth are particularly diagnostic, meaning you can tell what kind of animal, even just from one tooth. Riversleigh fossils are usually encased in hard limestone, if you can find stone that forms so hard in only 500 years, I'll eat my hat.
@Harry Mikolowski The same way they could tell how old are dinosaurs (And separate what time each of them lived) and other prehistoric species - Carbon Dating.
@Ventura Calderon Parada mine didn't ask for anything i think it saved my password or im just thinking things
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