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New Left Review 24, November-December 2003

What animal species does contemporary Brazil most resemble? The strange forms of a society that no longer enjoys the options of under-development, without acquiring the dynamics of globalized development, in the liveliest exploration to date of the possible meaning of Lula’s government.



The platypus sports an unbeatable combination for strangeness: first, an odd habitat with curiously adapted form to match; second, the real reason for its special place in zoological history—its enigmatic mélange of reptilian (or birdlike) with obvious mammalian characteristics. Ironically, the feature that first suggested pre-mammalian affinity—the ‘duckbill’ itself—supports no such meaning. The platypus’s muzzle is a purely mammalian adaptation to feeding in fresh waters, not a throwback to ancestral form.

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Francisco de Oliveira, ‘The Duckbilled Platypus’, NLR 24: £3

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