The May 3, 2012 issue of the journal Brain, Behavior, and Evolution tackled an issue which has millions of us humans wondering:
How does the cerebellum of the platypus develop???
Scientists (and I use that term loosely) working (and I use that term loosely too) at the Department of Anatomy, School of Medical Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia examined a group of mammals, monotremes, whose young are incubated in a "leathery-shelled egg and fed with milk from teatless areolae after hatching."
Their research goal?
"To determine whether cerebellar circuitry is able to contribute to the coordination of locomotion in the monotreme hatchling, and to correlate cerebellar development with behavioral maturation."
When President Richard Nixon declared way on cancer during the 1970s, NIH had dedicated just $40 million dollars per year on research. Those were the days when 1 out of 23 women were expected to die from breast cancer.
Today, it's one out of 3. Clearly, something's not working.
So what do scientists do next? They research on platypus brains with the stated goal of finding something which can be applied to a bizarre species of biped known as homo sapiens.
Down-under researchers did find something astonishing. They found that the hatchling's attempt to locate a teat from which it can nurture itself results from:
"The findings indicate that cerebellar circuitry is unlikely to contribute to the coordination of movements in the monotreme peri-hatching period. Those activities are most likely controlled by the spinal cord and medullary reticular formation circuitry."
Gee, what a surprise!!! The platypus brain actually regulates infant platypus behavior.
Quick, call the Nobel Prize committee.
What's next? These brilliant scientists might soon combine RNA from felines and platypusses (is that a word?) and genetically engineer a new species of creature to be named platypussies. This is another example of why mankind so badly needs animal research.