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Chris Anderson @c_n_anderson
, 29 tweets, 14 min read Read on Twitter
LAST UP: The 8th seed platypus vs. the 9th seed maned rat! #2018MMM
This battle was written by @Mammals_Suck, but at this moment she is flying over platypus range from Brisbane to Melbourne #2018MMM
The two combatants are pretty similar in body weight & dimensions both being ~5 lbs with squatty legs & funny walks #2018MMM
The maned rat (Lophiomys imhausi) has been long recognized as "that most interesting rodent" noted for it's "luxuriant dorsal mane" -Giglioli 1880 &1881 Nature #2018MMM (photo by Kevin Deacon)
While learned naturalists initially speculated that the platypus was a taxidermist's hoax created from spare parts across the animal kingdom, stitching together duck, beaver, & mole bits (pic by @Mammals_Suck in @austmus collection @AustmusResearch w/ @DrRebeccaJ ) #2018MMM
The maned rat chews on the poisonous bark of the Acokanthera plant, & then self-annoints the saliva-bark-poison-paste onto "uniquely adapted poison-delivery hairs growing in a tract along the lateral lines" of the rodent's sides (Kingdon et al. 2012) #2018MMM
Considered of "Least Concern" by @IUCN, the maned rat ranges in fragmented populations across various forests, woodlands, & semi-arid deserts in Eastern & Central Africa iucnredlist.org/details/full/1… #2018MMM
In some areas of their geographic distribution, the maned rat can find itself in competition with grumpy-faced hyraxes for food resources & rock piles for burrows (Linseele et al. 2010) #2018MMM
Ornithorhynchus anatinus, the semiaquatic, egg-laying platypus roams the waterways of the Eastern mainland of Australia & it's Southern island state of Tasmania #2018MMM
There are three living monotreme species- the platypus & two species of echidna- that are mammalian egg-layers. Once hatched, baby monotremes lap up milk from a patch on the mom's belly #2018MMM
JUST TODAY researchers announced the "Shirley Temple" protein, unique to monotreme milk, that is antimicrobial. The protein is tightly wound in ringlets, hence the Shirley Temple monniker! csiro.au/en/News/News-r… #2018MMM
"Of all the Mammalia yet known it seems the most extraordinary in its conformation, exhibiting the perfect resemblance of the beak of the duck engrafted on the body of a quadruped" G. Shaw, The Naturalist's Miscellany 1799 "I almost doubt the testimony of my own eyes" #2018MMM
AND SHAW DIDN'T EVEN KNOW THEN THAT THIS CREATURE LAID EGGS! #2018MMM
But in 1799 British Naturalist Shaw DID KNOW about the platypus's "strong, sharp spurs" on the ankles of their webbed feet! #2018MMM
Platypus spurs are hollow & can inflict VENOM during male-male combat in the mating season: "Rather than delivering venom through a bite, as do snakes & shrews, male platypuses have venomous spurs on each hind leg." #2018MMM genome.cshlp.org/content/18/6/9…
But platypus mating season is over & now his venomous spurs are shooting blanks! #RuhRoh #2018MMM
Indeed, March is when the the crural glands that produce platypus venom ARE MOST SHRUNKEN AND USELESS (Grant & Temple-Smith 1998) #2018MMM
Artistic representation of @Mammals_Suck when she wrote that tweet #2018MMM
Tonight's battle takes place at Lake St. Clair National Park in Tasmania (pic by @Mammals_Suck when she was there LAST WEEK AND SAW TWO PLATYPUSES!) #2018MMM
The platypus is headed to his burrow to sleep after 12+ hours of hunting aquatic invertebrates using electrical impulses to locate prey in murky waters (the ONLY mammal currently known to use electroreception) #2018MMM eprints.utas.edu.au/2326/
Not appreciating the daytime sun, the nocturnal maned rat ambles along the bank of the lake looking for a hidey hole to sleep away the day #2018MMM
Right at the burrow entrance maned rat & platypus collide!! #2018MMM
The "aggravated rat pulls its head back into its shoulders & turns its flared tract towards its adversary as if actively soliciting an attack" (Kingdon et al. 2012) #ComeAtMeBro #2018MMM
Platypus whips around slashing with his ankle spur! #2018MMM
Platypus's spur skates across the rat's side, failing to puncture rat's "unusually dense, tough & close-textured dermis" #2018MMM
Maned rat's "skin is resistant to all but the sharpest of teeth, claws or beaks." The thick skin of the maned rat can even be too much for dog canines! (Kingdon et al. 2012) #2018MMM
Deciding that "discretion is the better part of valor" the typically shy platypus slips into the water to forage a few feeds more, he has to catch ~20% of his weight daily you know! #2018MMM
MANED RAT DEFLECTS PLATYPUS!!!!! #2018MMM
Return tomorrow (Thursday, March 15) for Round 1: ANTECESSORS DIVISION! Hopefully we'll have the return of our fearless leader Prof Katie Hinde @Mammals_Suck ! #2018MMM
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