The World's Strangest Animals
Nicole Duplaix/National Geographic/Getty Images
What it is: Probably the world’s best-known animal oddity, the platypus looks like something slapped together from parts of other creatures. With its flat, beaverish tail, seal-like flippers and pelt, and leathery, oversized duck bill, it’s no wonder the platypus stymied the first scientists who examined it (they actually thought the specimen was a practical joke).
What’s strangest about it: Weird though its appearance may be, it’s the platypus’ reproductive process that’s truly wild; it’s one of only two mammals on the planet that lay eggs (the other is the echidna, also endemic to Australia).
Where to see it: Rivers and freshwater lakes of southeastern Australia. Platypuses are timid and largely nocturnal, so the best way to see them is to book a twilight tour with Platypus Eco-Tours (www.platypusecotours.com.au), which operates nightly out of the small Cumbungi Sanctuary in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills.