by Will Baker
For quite some time, I labored under the delusion that the plural of platypus was “platypi.” In fact, this delusion seems to be quite common, as numerous others refer to more than one platypus by this term. Recently, however, I discovered something shocking: contrary to what seems to be popular belief, the plural of platypus is actually platypuses. This earth-shattering realization catapulted me into doing a bit more research into the nature of the platypus, as I have always found them to be fascinating, quirky little fellows. After mere minutes of research, I had discovered that platypuses are far more extraordinary than I had previously given them credit for; remarkable creatures, from whom we as humans ought to take a good many lessons from.
I sympathize with platypuses. The name itself sounds ridiculous - and rightfully so. It is the perfect word for such an odd creature, a bit of nonsense that encapsulates the whimsy of this very peculiar animal. Platypuses are so uncommonly strange, in fact, that when scientists first examined a preserved platypus body in 1799, they were baffled. Eventually, they came to the reasonable conclusion that the body must be a fake, a series of different animal parts taxidermied together to form something that looked laughable. But the platypus, despite his bizarre appearance, is very well-suited to his habitat. The collection of eccentric features that many of us cannot picture while keeping a straight face are incredibly useful to the platypus. In this respect, the score is Platypuses 1, Humans 0. While we may be so arrogant as to judge based on a nonsensical appearance, the platypus does not care what we think. The platypus does not take bickering criticism. He cares little if we call him a fake or laugh at his foolish appearance.
Really, we ought to learn from this. Judging on appearances seems to be a hallmark of our society, and as the platypus shows us, it is quite a flawed practice. We must learn to avoid making such severe judgements based on our first impressions of someone, and to wait and see what everyone brings to the table before we make our judgements. If the platypus can teach us anything, it is that judging on appearance alone is a huge mistake. Especially because the platypus’ appearance serves a great number of hidden purposes.
The strange, beaver-like tail? It allows the platypus to store fat reserves. The dull brown, mole-like fur? It traps a layer of air next to the platypus’ skin that keeps the creature warm - and makes it waterproof. The duck-like bill? It allows the platypus to sense electric fields generated by the muscle movements of their prey. In fact, the platypus is part of the only family of mammals (monotremes) which are able to do this. Though the platypus may appear bizarre, it is an incredible animal that can do things we can only wish we could do. So, if ever you find yourself judging someone based on their looks alone, do not forget the platypus. And if you are a bit of a platypus yourself, then embrace your peculiarity! Truly, the world would be a better place if we were all platypuses.