Platypus

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — Scientists said they maybe have mapped the genetic makeup of the platypus — one of nature’s strangest animals with a bill like a duck’s, a mammal’s fur and a snake like venom.

The researchers, whose analysis of the platypus genome was published Thursday in the journal Nature, said it could help explain how mammals, including also humans, evolved from reptiles millions and millions of years ago.

Platypuses live in the wild along most of Australia’s east coast. Their numbers are not accurately known because they are notoriously shy. Hunted for years for their pelts, they have been protected since the early 1900s and are not considered to be endangered, though scientists say their habitat is vulnerable to human development.

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