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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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Big Questions
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
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Cats often exhibit some very peculiar behavior, from getting into deadly combat situations with their own tail to pouncing on unsuspecting humans. Among their most curious habits: running from their litter box like a greyhound after moving their bowels. Are they running from their own fecal matter? Has waste elimination prompted a sense of euphoria?

Experts—if anyone is said to qualify as an expert in post-poop moods—aren’t exactly sure, but they’ve presented a number of entertaining theories. From a biological standpoint, some animal behaviorists suspect that a cat bolting after a deposit might stem from fears that a predator could track them based on the smell of their waste. But researchers are quick to note that they haven’t observed cats run from their BMs in the wild.

Biology also has a little bit to do with another theory, which postulates that cats used to getting their rear ends licked by their mother after defecating as kittens are showing off their independence by sprinting away, their butts having taken on self-cleaning properties in adulthood.

Not convinced? You might find another idea more plausible: Both humans and cats have a vagus nerve running from their brain stem. In both species, the nerve can be stimulated by defecation, leading to a pleasurable sensation and what some have labeled “poo-phoria,” or post-poop elation. In running, the cat may simply be working off excess energy brought on by stimulation of the nerve.

Less interesting is the notion that notoriously hygienic cats may simply want to shake off excess litter or fecal matter by running a 100-meter dash, or that a digestive problem has led to some discomfort they’re attempting to flee from. The fact is, so little research has been done in the field of pooping cat mania that there’s no universally accepted answer. Like so much of what makes cats tick, a definitive motivation will have to remain a mystery.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Animals
Listen to the Impossibly Adorable Sounds of a Baby Sloth
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Sometimes baby sloths seem almost too adorable to be real. But the little muppet-faced treasures don't just look cute—turns out they sound cute, too. We know what you're thinking: How could you have gone your whole life without knowing what these precious creatures sound like? Well, fear not: Just in time for International Sloth Day (today), we have some footage of how the tiny mammals express themselves—and it's a lot of squeaking. (Or maybe that's you squealing?)

The sloths featured in the heart-obliterating video below come from the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica. The institution rescues orphaned sloths, rehabilitates them, and gets them ready to be released back into the wild.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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