An Australian historian of science reveals all about that mysterious creature, the platypus, a mammal which lays eggs but has fur along with its duck-like bill. She also describes the bafflement scientists felt when first confronted with the platypus and the many confused attempts to place the animal in its proper place in the Darwinian scheme.
When the first platypus specimen reached England from Australia in 1799, the scientific community claimed that it was a hoax. On closer investigation, dubious European naturalists eventually declared it to be real, though in an age obsessed with classification, the category-defying platypus sparked heated debates across Europe for a century. In Platypus, Ann Moyal provides a unique biography of one of the world's most famously strange creatures and tells the incredible story of how it became the focus of the great scientific debates of the nineteenth century. Eloquent and concise, Platypus uncovers the earliest theories and latest discoveries about this delightfully odd member of the animal kingdom.