Here's Why Platypus Look So Goofy

Scientist decode its DNA, see part mammal, part reptile
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2008 7:00 PM CDT
The humble platypus is genetically linked to both reptiles and birds.   (oo00o0oo0oo)
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(Newser) – Scientists have decoded the genome of the duck-billed platypus, National Geographic reports, with their findings as interesting as they expected. Research, published in Nature, confirms that the platypus is the earliest living offshoot of mammalian evolution, yet retains many genetic throwbacks to reptilian ancestors thought to have lived 300 million years ago.

"The platypus genome, like the animal itself, is an amazing amalgam of reptile-like and mammal-like features," says one scientist. "The platypus is critical to helping us understand what genes were present in the ancestral reptilian lineage and how mammals evolved their particular traits," adds another.