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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.

FRANCISCO DE OLIVEIRA

THE DUCKBILLED PLATYPUS

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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