Scientists have recently reported that they have finally cracked and analysed the genome of the mysterious Duck-billed Platypus, and discovered that the Platypus, although a mammal, actually has genetic ties to both reptiles and birds.
Deciphering the Platypus genome has been a goal for biologists for a long time as it is believed that they Platypus genome holds they key to how the earliest mammals evolved.
Like the animal itself, the genome of the Platypus is a mixture of mammal and reptile features, and the analysis shows that the Platypus was actually the earliest branch-off in the mammal family tree.
The Platypus and Echidna are both closely related. These two animals make up a group known as monotremes which are mammals that lay eggs. So far the Echidna and Platypus are the only known animals in this group which are thought to have split from other mammals over 160 million years ago.
The Platypus and Echidna (Forever imortalised in SEGA’s Sonic The Hedgehog games as Knuckles) are very important for gaining an understanding of how mammals gained their traits and abilities, whereas the egg laying is believed to have been passed down from mammal-like reptiles of the past.