149. Going For a Charge?


The duck billed Platypus is a strange animal. It has four legs and a furry exterior. It has a beaver’s tail,  in addition to the webbed feet and a beak of a duck!

More than all these, it lays eggs like a bird but suckles its young ones like a mammal!  As if all these facts are not queer enough, it has an inexplicable affinity for electric charges!

Platypus lives on live prey—shrimps, worms, frogs, snails, tadpoles, insect larvae and tiny fish. When it dives its eyes are shut tight and the eye lids cover the ear holes also– making it virtually deaf and blind under water.

Then how does it locate its prey? Is it by its strong sense of smell or by using its sensitive bill?

All living things emit minute electrical charges. Whenever a fish flicks its tail, this tiny charge increases by a tinier amount.

Apparently Platypus can recognize these tiny changes in electrical charges and use it for locating it prey.

Interesting experiments were conducted in water tanks. The menu offered to the Platypus contained a charged flash light battery, a dead battery and shrimp.

Ignoring the dead battery, the platypus preferred the live battery to the live fish! Weak electrical fields made the platypus look for its prey there, more often, than when the charge was put off.

Sensors in the bills enable the platypus to detect the electrical charges. These sensors are connected to a point, directly behind its brain, which is sensitive to electrical stimulation.

Truly the platypus gets a “real charge” when it dives deep to dine!

Visalakshi Ramani

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