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An Antipodal Mystery



Author:

Clyde Freeman Herreid
Department of Biological Sciences
University at Buffalo
herreid@buffalo.edu

Abstract:

The discovery of the platypus had the scientific world in an uproar and kept it tantalized for decades. Here was the strangest animal ever seen. How was one to classify it? It had fur. So, was it a mammal? But then what to make of its duck-like bill? And how did it produce and suckle its young? Based on the book by Ann Moyal titled Platypus: The Extraordinary Story of How a Curious Creature Baffled the World, the case focuses on classification and evolution and models the scientific process, with scientists arguing, debating, collecting more information, and revising their opinions as more data become available.

Objectives:
  • To show how the scientific process really works.
  • To learn some of the basic anatomy of the female tetrapod reproductive tract and patterns of egg-laying versus birth.
  • To see some of the trends and patterns in anatomy that lead people to the idea of evolution.
  • To learn some of the basic ideas of classification and to recognize how intermediate steps are to be expected with evolution.
Keywords: Taxonomy; ornithorynchus; platypus; monotreme; marsupial; scala naturae; evolution; Australia
Topical Area: History of science, Scientific method
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Evolutionary Biology   Biology (General)   Zoology  
Date Posted: 08/15/05
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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