When descriptions and specimens of the Duck-Billed Platypus were first sent to Europe by British colonial officials in Australia, the first reaction of many scientists was to brush it off as an elaborate hoax, like a monkey and fish sewn together as proof of mermaids. They had their reasons, too — to a taxonomist not accustomed to its reality, the unique features of the platypus must make it appear like a strange mix of mammal, reptile and bird: They are classified as mammals, but they have snouts resembling duck bills,note they have dense fur but the males also have spurs on their legs laced with venom, their young hatch from eggs, and they feed their young by sweating milk.
(And these aren't even the weirdest things about it: platypusesnote also sense electrical fields like a shark, have legs splayed to the sides in a reptilian manner, have no stomach, secrete their own antibiotics, have ten sex chromosomes instead of two, have a reproductive system akin to a bird with only one functional ovary, and even glow in the dark under UV light, as discovered in 2020 research.)
While the verifiable existence of the duck-billed platypus is nowadays public knowledge, fiction still likes to lampshade how much of a living turducken they are compared to the rest of the Animal Kingdom. So when a character is told about the existence of platypuses, they will usually scoff at the idea. When they discover that the platypus is very much real and not some taxidermic prank or mythical creature, they throw their hands in the air and resign themselves to the fact that since platypuses exist, then so do fairies, mermaids and the crocoduck.
It's worth noting that many of the odder traits of the platypus were once common among mammals. It's simply that the dominant group of mammals alive today, the therians (placentals + marsupials), lost most of the wackier characteristics like egg-laying and venomous spurs. As with all organisms, the platypus can be said to be only weird in context.
See also Reality Is Unrealistic.
- In a stand-up bit, Robin Williams did a routine on how God made the platypus while heavily stoned (after finishing the job, he flips off Darwin).
- In a The Far Side cartoon, scientists studying platypuses realize that they are rats wearing fake duck beaks.
- In The Dragon and the Butterfly: Whiteout, Pedro is convinced that the platypus is a made-up animal.
- In the A Pink Planet fanfic Budding, the Morganite working at the Coral Facility is given data on the platypus and finds it to be one of the most bizarre things to come from the Earth, and she's been in charge of the creation of geminals (half-gem, half-organic lifeforms) for centuries.
- In Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past, Harry is teaching the DA how to use the patronus charm. When Luna's patronus manifests as a duck-billed platypus, Ron scoffs that her patronus would be a made-up animal. Hermione explains to him that it actually is a real animal, only for Ron to flatly refuse to believe her.
- When it is broken to Sol and Hush in Paragon (Kitsune Heart) that sabertooth tigers and T. rexes don't exist anymore, Hush is then convinced that platypuses are not real either, only for Pearl to contradict her.
Sol: This planet is fractured.
- Discussed in The Rise of Darth Vulcan. After Luna and Celestia reveal that Thestrals actually benefit from drinking blood, the panel of scientists chew them out for manipulating the experiment to have No Control Group (the test group was fed blood with blue food coloring in to make it purple, and the control got straight blood), rendering their findings unacceptable. Celestia brings up that it took bringing a platypus cadaver to their predecessors to change their minds on whether or not they existed, and one guy swore up and down he could see stitches on it.
- Dot and the Kangaroo features a song about Mr. and Mrs. Platypus singing about their peculiar qualities, as an "Ornithorhynchus paradoxus" (an outdated Latin name for the platypus).
- In the opening disclaimer of Dogma, the film tries establishing that God has a sense of humor by citing the existence of the platypus. They then go on to place a disclaimer that they in no way possess any ill-intentions or harsh opinions towards platypuses (even though they call them "stupid creatures" in the apology) and platypus enthusiasts.
- An old Australian joke claims that platypuses were ducks designed by a committee.
- The Areas of My Expertise:
- The author — discussing Attack of the Killer Whatever type movies — proposes that someone make a movie with the simple premise of ALL ANIMALS VS. ALL HUMANS, assuring the reader that the scene with the killer platypus alone will be worth the price of admission.
- In the sequel, More Information Than You Require, he learns that screenwriter Mike Sobel has sold a script with this exact premise (although it seems to have fallen into Development Hell since the book's publication), and asks if he can be cast in a cameo role as "The Man Who Gets Venomous-Foot-Spurred to Death By the Platypus."
IT'S ONLY FAIR.
- Discworld: In The Last Continent, Terry Pratchett runs with the Australian joke (see the Comedy folder): the wizards of Unseen University end up in pre-creation Fourecks, just in time to witness the Creator at worknote bringing forth the beasts of the field and the fowl of the air and the fish of the water. They hijack his toolkit, wanting to join in, and try to design a duck...
- In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel compares her and Gus (as cancer patients surviving past what was expected of them) to the platypus.
Hazel's narration: Augustus and I were together in the Improbable Creatures Club: us and duck-billed platypuses.
- In one Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, Q claims to have been the one who came up for the idea of the duck-billed platypus. Captain Picard is unimpressed.
- Mr. Bungle's "Platypus" is about how unusual the animal is, mentioning how it was initially regarded as a hoax. The song also exaggerates the strangeness of the animal by combining actual scientific facts with Little Known Facts:
The platypus has the brain of a dolphin
And can be seen driving a forklift in his habitat of kelp
He is the larva of the flatworm
And has the ability to regenerate after injury
- Bob Rivers: Played for Laughs in the song "What if God Smoked Cannabis?"
Do you s'pose he had a buzz
When He made the platypus?
- Aboriginal folklore has many myths and legends about the platypus.
- One Aboriginal legend tells of how the platypus was born from the mating of a duck and a water-rat.
- Another tells the tale of how the land animals, water animals and birds each tried to get the platypus to join their group, but the platypus refused, saying that he didn't need to be part of any group to be special.
- A retelling of the legend of Tiddalik the Frog has a platypus and its absurd appearance as the reason why the great frog laughed and gave back all the water he had drank. (In the original tale, it was an eel doing a funny dance.)
- Exterminatus Now: The Inquisition arrests a Mix-and-Match Critters criminal with deformations so hideous they can only be the work of the Dark Gods. It turns out he's not tainted at all but a platypus. Unfortunately, he also happens to be Lothar's (adoptive) little brother. A tense standoff ensues.
- In Kevin & Kell, where a World of Funny Animals has strong prejudices across species lines, many people aren't sure what to make of Mr Chapman the platypus. In his first appearance he explains he has no prejudice against titular blended family, because he's "a blended individual".
- In Camp Lazlo episode "Burpless Bean", Edward the platypus has a dramatic breakdown because he fears that Lazlo's inability to burp will ruin Edward's dream of a conducting a burp chorus at the Camp Kidney talent show. When Edward asks Lazlo rhetorically "why do you hate me?", Lazlo assures him that he does not hate him and that he "love[s] all creatureseven whatever you are!"
- In the My Gym Partner's a Monkey episode "That Darn Platypus", a platypus named Rick transfers to Charles Darwin Middle School. Believing that aliens caused a blackout the previous night and having never had a platypus in their school before, the animal student body immediately come to the conclusion that Rick is an alien and the entire school goes into panic mode with a bewildered Adam trying and failing to convince them otherwise. With Rick being the worst kind of Class Clown, he does nothing except tell jokes that exacerbates their frenzy. It is not until the end of the episode is it revealed that he actually was an alien in disguise. Since it's Adam saying this, he gets accused of being xenophobic and is forced to clean up the mess his friends made.
- Phineas and Ferb: Downplayed. Most characters barely blink an eye at the titular characters' pet platypus Perry, with a dismissive "they don't do much" instead being a recurring description. However, he is sometimes confused for a duck, a beaver, or both by one-off characters. In "Where's Perry (Part Two)", Ferb has this to say:
Ferb: Well, ever since George Shaw wrote the first description of the platypus for highly skeptical European scientists in 1798, this unique creature has become synonymous with the word "impossible".
- Popeye and Brutus compete for a job at a zoo. To get the job, they have to make lugubrious hyena laugh. Popeye wins with this:
Well, it seems there was an elephant and a platypus. And the elephant says to the platypus, "I never forgets a face...but in your case, I'll makes an exception."
- A Robot Chicken sketch shows God randomly cobbling together animal body parts to create the platypus.
- A Super Secret Secret Squirrel short on 2 Stupid Dogs has the villain of the week being a platypus. Tired of being mocked for his peculiar appearance, he plans on using stolen technology to rearrange his body into something easier on the eyes. After Secret, Morroco Mole, and the Chief struggle for a bit trying to catch him with their bodies all mixed-up, they get the Platypus to give up his evil ways by hooking him up with a lady platypus who thinks he's handsome just the way he is.
- Inverted on Spliced. Despite being a platypus, Patricia is actually considered the most normal inhabitant of Keepaway Island, the rest of whom are Mix-and-Match Critters and other genetically-engineered oddities created by a Mad Scientist. Fittingly, Patricia is also the shows Only Sane Woman, further playing into the joke that even the platypus isnt that puzzling when compared to the mutants of Keepaway Island.
- In an episode of Wild Instinct, a new platypus at the zoo is causing a stir. The other animals speculate: Is it a human? Is it a duck, a beaver or a cross between the two? That leads to an identity crisis. Finally, Miss Connoch the wildebeest solves the problem and tells everyone that the new animal is a platypus.
- Zeke's Pad: In "Fetch a Sketch", Zeke draws his ideal pet. With his Pad and his vivid imagination, he draws the perfect pet, Sketch. Sketch is very weird looking, with a hyena's jaw, feathers, fins, and other weird parts. After Sketch wreaks havoc on the neighborhood, Zeke and Jay realize that Sketch isn't being vicious; he is just lonely and looking for someone like him. With that in mind, Zeke and Jay finds Sketch a perfect companion, an animal as weird as Sketch, a platypus. They send Sketch merrily on his way to be with the platypus, and the weird animal couple live happily ever after. They even send an egg a few months later for Zeke to babysit!