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Platypus anatomy (Shaw), 1799

Platypus anatomy (Shaw), 1799

C028/9584

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Credit

PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Platypus anatomy. Duck-billed platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), as described in 1799 by British naturalist George Shaw (1751-1813). These artworks are by Frederick Polydore Nodder (1770-1800) and appeared in volume 10 of Shaw's 'The Naturalist's Miscellany'. This was the first formal description of a creature described as extraordinary and originally suspected of being a fake pastiche of different animals. The beak seemed too strange to be true and Shaw wrote in the accompanying text 'at first view it naturally excites the idea of some deceptive preparation by artificial means [...] (it is only with) the most minute and rigid imagination that we can persuade ourselves of its being the real beak or snout of a quadruped'. The even more extraordinary additional revelation that this animal laid eggs would wait for Everard Home's dissections of 1802.

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