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 duck-bills instead of mouths with teeth; they have a dense fur but also claws laced with venom and their young hatch from eggs, who they then feed by sweating milk.
(And these aren't even the weirdest things about it: platypuses 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 a 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.
See also Reality Is Unrealistic.
- An old Australian joke claims that Platypuses were ducks designed by a committee.
- In a stand-up bit, Robin Williams does 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 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.
- When it is broken to Sol and Hush in Paragon 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Australia, 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.
- 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 stole 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.
- 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".
- 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!"
- 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!
- A Robot Chicken sketch shows god randomly cobbling together animal body parts to create the platypus.