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8 Videos of Platypodes in the Wild

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When it comes to people, the platypus is pretty shy, and human encounters in the wild are rare. Here are a few people who got lucky enough to see these extraordinary creatures in the great outdoors, captured it on video, and put it on the Internet for the rest of us to enjoy.

1. Hobart, Tasmania

Max Moller is proof that sometimes, patience is rewarded. The Tasmanian filmmaker had spent seven years trying to make a movie about platypodes and had only 30 seconds of footage to show for it when, one day, his assistant saw something moving through the grass. "Thinking it was some huge lizard, we couldn't believe it when we saw this platypus walking between one creek to another," Moller told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "Filming platypus is one of the hardest tasks ever but sometimes the luck is on your side and, with the amazing job from my assistant, we have managed to film this animal for around five minutes." Much of the footage captured of platypodes shows them in water, so this video is even more extraordinary; scientists from the Natural History Museum in London plan to use it to study the animal's movements.

2. Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

A lucky hiker captured this footage of a friendly baby male platypus in 2007. Good thing this little boy was friendly: The male platypus is venomous; it uses spikes on its hind feet to deliver the toxin. It's not fatal to humans, but the pain has been described as excruciating.

3. Mole Creek, Tasmania

Like something out of The Secret, this YouTuber was walking with a friend "through this wonderful creeky bushland" in Tasmania and "mentioned how cool it would be to see a platypus (as it seemed to be the ideal habitat for them)." And then, a platypus appeared!

Just how did this creature come by its interesting name? George Shaw, the first person to describe the creature in his 1799 book Naturalist's Miscellany, named it Platypus anatinus, from Greek and Latin words meaning "flat-footed" and "duck-like." But the story doesn't end there: The following year, scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach suggested that the platypus be called Ornithorhynchus paradoxus, meaning "bird-like snout" and "puzzling." Then, as it turned out, Platypus had already been used to describe a group of beetles, so a new name was needed for Australia's strangest creature, which was created by combining Shaw's and Blumenbach's scientific names to get Ornithorhynchus anatinus. Platypus became the animal's common name.

4. Carnarvon Gorge, Australia

Ken Murray got footage of both platypus and wild pigs in this video, uploaded earlier this year. "Enjoy these playful Platypus in Carnarvon Gorge, Australia," he writes on the YouTube page. "They are very hard to film, because they are so shy and wary of any different movement or shapes and things. These wild pigs are also very wary of any strangers in their territory, as you will see!"

5. Mt. Field National Park, Tasmania

Evan Wels "spotted this playful platypus looking for food at dusk in July 2009 below Russell Falls" and shot footage of it using a Nikon D9. Platypodes use their bills, which are equipped with mechanoreceptors, to find food. They have no teeth, so they scoop up larvae, insects, worms, and shellfish off the bottom along with some gravel and mud, which they store in their cheek pouches and mash on the surface. Another fun fact: Platypodes don't have stomachs.

6. Kiewa River, NE Victoria, Australia

"Who said platypus are shy?" This YouTuber asked. "This little baby defied the rules and put on a great performance!" Fun fact: When these monotremes' eggs hatch, the female provides them with milk—but not through nipples. Instead, she secretes the milk through her areolae in two places, and the babies lap it up directly from her skin.

7. Tasmania

Jason Maraschiello uploaded this video of a platypus hanging out in shallow water in June 2013. The best time to spot platypodes is early in the morning or late in the day.

8. Queensland, Australia

In the 19th century, the platypus was described as keeping its body "flat as a plank" in the water, and from this footage of a platypus swimming in Johnston River, uploaded just two months ago, you can see that description is accurate.

BONUS: Hand-feeding a Platypus

And I'd be remiss if I didn't leave you with this adorable video of some lucky person hand feeding and playing with a platypus at the Victoria, Australia-based Healesville Sanctuary.

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NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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Joe Raedle, Getty Images
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Animals
10 Things You Might Not Know About Grizzly Bears
Joe Raedle, Getty Images
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Ursus arctos horribilis is better known by the more casual term of grizzly bear. These massive, brown-haired predators have a reputation as one of nature’s most formidable killing machines. Standing up to 8 feet tall and weighing 800 pounds, these fierce mammals have captivated—and frightened—humans for centuries. Keep your distance and read up on these facts about their love for munching moths, eating smaller bears, and being polar-curious.

1. THEY’RE ACTUALLY PRETTY LIGHT EATERS.

Grizzlies—more accurately, North American brown bears—are strong enough to make a meal out of whatever they like, including moose, elk, and bison. Despite their reputation for having carnivorous appetites, their diet also consists of nuts, berries, fruits, and leaves. They’ll even eat mice. The gluttony doesn’t kick in until they begin to exhibit hyperphagia, preparing for winter hibernation by chomping down enough food to gain up to three pounds a day.

2. THEY USE “CPR” TO GET AT YOUR FOOD.

A grizzly bear eats fruit in Madrid, Spain
Dani Pozo, AFP/Getty Images

More than 700 grizzlies live in or near Yellowstone National Park, which forces officials to constantly monitor how park visitors and the bears can peacefully co-exist. Because bears rummaging in food containers can lead to unwanted encounters, the park’s Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center tests trash cans and coolers to see if they’re bear-resistant. (Nothing is truly bear-proof.) Often, a bear will use “CPR,” or jumping on a canister with its front legs, in order to make the lid pop off. Containers that can last at least 60 minutes before being opened can be advertised by their manufacturers as being appropriate for bear-inhabited environments.

3. THEY CAN CLIMB TREES.

It's a myth that grizzlies can't climb trees. Though their weight and long claws make climbing difficult [PDF], and they need support from evenly-spaced branches, grizzlies can travel vertically if they choose to.

4. THEY’LL EAT OTHER BEARS.

Two grizzly bears play in a pool at a zoo in France
Jean-Francois Monier, AFP/Getty Images

In addition to being omnivorous, grizzlies can also be classified as cannibals. They’ve been spotted eating the carcasses of black bears in Canada. Calling it a “bear-eat-bear world,” officials at Banff National Park in Alberta said the grizzlies are “opportunistic” and more than willing to devour black bears—sometimes just one-fifth their size—if the occasion calls for it. And it’s not just black bears: One study on bear eating habits published in 2017 recorded a 10-year-old male eating a 6-year-old female brown bear.

5. THEY LOVE MOTHS.

Although grizzlies enjoy eating many insects, moths are at the top of the menu. Researchers have observed that bears are willing to climb to alpine heights at Montana’s Glacier National Park in order to feast on the flying appetizers. Grizzlies will turn over rocks and spend up to 14 hours in a day devouring in excess of 40,000 moths.

6. A PAIR OF THEM ONCE LIVED ON WHITE HOUSE GROUNDS.

A grizzly bear appears at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenseburg, Colorado
John Moore, Getty Images

In what would be considered an ill-advised decision, explorer Zebulon Pike decided to gift his friend President Thomas Jefferson with two grizzly cubs in 1807. Jefferson reluctantly accepted them and kept them in a cage near the north entrance to the White House, and later re-gifted the cubs to museum operator Charles Willson Peale. Sadly, one of them got shot after getting too aggressive with Peale’s family.

7. THEY CAN RUN FASTER THAN USAIN BOLT.

The bears we see in fiction or lazing about in the wild tend to look cumbersome and slow, as most anything weighing nearly a half-ton would. But in a land race, even Olympic champions would be on the losing end. Grizzlies can reportedly run 35 mph, and sustain speeds of up to 28 mph for two miles, faster than Usain Bolt’s 27.78 miles per hour stride (which he can only sustain for a few seconds).

8. THEY MATE WITH POLAR BEARS.

A grizzly bear is shown swimming at a pool in an Illinois zoo
Scott Olson, Getty Images

In parts of Alaska and Canada where grizzlies and polar bears converge, there are sometimes rare sightings of what observers call “grolar bears” or “pizzlies.” With large heads and light-colored fur, they’re a hybrid superbear birthed from some interspecies mating. Typically, it’s male grizzlies who roam into those territories, finding female polar bears to cozy up with. Researchers believe climate change is one reason the two are getting together.

9. THEY KNOW HOW TO COVER THEIR TRACKS.

When it comes to intellect, grizzlies may not get all the same publicity that birds and whales do, but they’re still pretty clever. The bears can remember hotspots for food even if it’s been 10 years since they last visited the area; some have been observed covering tracks or obscuring themselves with rocks and trees to avoid detection by hunters.

10. THEY’RE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET.

A grizzly bear and her cub walk in Yellowstone National Park
Karen Bleier, AFP/Getty Images

For 42 years, grizzlies at Yellowstone occupied the endangered species list. That ended in 2017, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared that a rise in numbers—from 150 in the 1970s to more than 700 today—meant that conservation efforts had been successful. But overall, the grizzly population is still struggling: Fewer than 2000 remain in the lower 48 states, down from 50,000 two centuries ago.

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