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Creation Vs. Evolution: Design in Animals

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The Flat-Footed, Beaver-Tailed, Duck-Billed Platypus

by  Nathaniel Nelson

The duck-billed platypus has been a mortal enemy of evolution since it was first discovered in 1797. When this marvelous animal was sent to England, scientists believed that it was a fraud concocted by Chinese taxidermists (see Ham, 2002, p. 126), because of their reputation for sewing various parts together to create an assortment of unusual animals. After the initial discovery of the platypus, it was introduced to the public as Platypus anatinus by George Shaw. This name would not last, though, because a scientist by the name of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach changed its name to the “paradoxical bird bill,” or Ornithorhynchus paradoxus (see Wendt, 1959, pp. 253-254). After arguments between these two men over the name of the platypus, they finally came to an agreement: they would call it the “duck-like bird-bill,” or Ornithorhynchus anatinus.

Why was there so much controversy over what this animal actually was? And why was its name so peculiar? The anatomy of this amazing creature reveals some of the answers. In a book titled The Variety of Life, Colin Tudge wrote:

The Prototheria contains just one living group, the order Monotremata, which nowadays is represented only by the duck-billed platypus and two species (in two genera) of echidna; creatures that lay eggs, and keep their new-hatched young in a pouch (2000, p. 437. emp. added).

Taxonomists have been forced to place the duck-billed platypus in its own order because it does not belong anywhere else. Robert W. Faid explained why this is so:

The bill of the platypus is like a duck’s bill. On each foot there are not only five toes, but webbing which makes it a cross between a duck and an animal which has to scratch and dig. Unlike most mammals, the limbs of the platypus are short and parallel to the ground. The external ear is only a hole without the ear lobe which mammals usually have. The eyes are small. The platypus is nocturnal. It catches its food under water and stores the worms, snails, grubs, etc, in cheek pouches like those of a squirrel (1990, p. 111).

Evolutionists are astounded at the myriad of varying structures found on the duck-billed platypus. Its beak would imply a close relationship to ducks; its tail might place it with beavers; its hair is similar to that of a bear; its webbed feet imply that it would be an otter; and its claws are the likeness of a reptile’s. God’s hand must have been behind such diversity, because evolution certainly wasn’t!

The physiological diversity of the platypus is just as intriguing. Spurs located on the hind legs of the platypus produce venom. This poison is nearly as deadly as most venomous snakes! This would make it the world’s only venomous animal with fur (see Faid, p. 112). Stuart Burgess, in his book Hallmarks of Design, pointed out: “The platypus goes on to feed the young with milk like a normal mammal. However, the platypus, unlike any other mammal, does not have feeding nipples but milks seeps out of pores in its skin!” (2000, p. 111). Nipples are the means by which mammals feed. The platypus defies this rule with pores as a means of feeding its offspring. These functions of the platypus are paradoxical if you look at them from an evolutionary taxonomic point of view. From a creationist standpoint, though, it seems much easier to explain why God would create something so diverse.

The fossil record also testifies to the fact that the platypus is a genuine creature, not having evolved from a common predecessor. Scott M. Huse wrote:

There are several good reasons for rejecting the evolutionary interpretation of the origin of the platypus. A few of these reasons include: (1) Platypus fossils are exactly the same as modern forms. (2)The complex structures of the egg and milk glands are always fully developed and offer no solution as to the origin and development of the womb or the milk. (3) The more typical mammals are found in much lower strata that the egg-laying platypus. Thus, the duck-billed platypus appears to be a distinct kind of animal in and of itself that has been specifically designed to include a mixture of traits (1997, p.149, emp. added).

Evolutionists cannot explain the anatomy of the platypus; they cannot explain its physiology; and they cannot explain it by evolutionary processes. It is evident that the platypus holds evolutionary scientists in perplexity because of its diverse nature. This creature can be explained only by God’s guiding hand.

REFERENCES

Burgess, Stuart (2000), Hallmarks of Design (Epsom, Surrey: Day One Publications).

Faid, Robert W. (1990), A Scientific Approach to Christianity (Green Forest, AR: Leaf Press).

Ham, Ken (2002), Did Eve Really Have an Extra Rib? (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).

Huse, Scott H. (1997), The Collapse of Evolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books).

Tudge, Colin (2000), The Variety of Life (Great Clarendon St., Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Wendt, Herbert (1959), Out of Noah’s Ark, trans. Michael Bullock (Cambridge, MA: Riverside Press).




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