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Platypus Attacks! Aussie Homeland Insecurity

I was searching for information about the poison delivered by the spur of the platypus this morning when I came across a curious abstract for an article in the Journal of Hand Surgery:

“The platypus (ornithorhynchus anatinus) is a furry duck-billed mammal that inhabits the waterways of eastern Australia. The male may reach 60 cm in length with a 20 cm beaver-like tail. We report the case of an American naturalist stung whilst trying to study the male in the wild. This resulted in an intense local reaction. Warning signs should therefore be erected at air and sea ports warning tourists of the dangers of these venomous Australians.”

Warning signs at airports cautioning tourists about “venomous Australians”? The platypus isn’t a very common animal, and it doesn’t hang out in places where most tourists to Australia would go, so I thought at first that this overreaching abstract must be some kind of satire, an April Fool’s joke of some kind.

It is not. Author Michael A. Tonkin is for real, and has written other case studies, such as Acute Calcific Tendinitis in the Hand and Wrist. Coauthor J. Negrine is also a genuine medical researcher, having written unforgettable favorites such as Synovial chondromatosis in the distal interphalangeal joint.

No one should handle live a platypus without taking extreme precautions. Getting jabbed with a platypus can cause severe swelling and excruciating pain that even high doses of morphine can’t beat, and the pain can last for months. Still, there isn’t much chance of a jabbing taking place – many cases of platypus attacks happen when platypus researchers are handling their subjects, taking measurements and “samples”. So long as tourists to Australia avoid such activities, they’re probably going to be fine, even if there are no warning signs up at the airport.

3 thoughts on “Platypus Attacks! Aussie Homeland Insecurity”

  1. ramone says:

    along with a sign warning against being hit by lighting, getting hijacked by pirates and or getting bombed by a boy’s underpants.

  2. Mark says:

    I flew into and out of Washington DC’s Dulles airport this weekend and I started to realize just how easy it would be to launch a terrorist attack that would paralyze a major airport, and perhaps much of the country. All it would take would be a suicide bomber with a flight ticket. We’ve all experienced the situation where a large number of passengers have shown their identification and boarding passes and are now waiting to get through the security screening. The large backlog is because we all have to unpack our carry-on luggage of our laptop computers, our 3 ounce bottles of liquid, and take off our shoes to pass them through the X-ray devices. Meanwhile, a terrorist with 40 pounds of explosives in his carry-on bag could easily get through the initial screening and wait until he’s in the middle of this crowd. Imagine the chaos that would ensue once he detonates his 40 pounds of explosives. He would kill dozens, if not hundreds of people. It would certainly shut down the airport, and probably several more around the country (if not all of them). Imagine the disruption to our society if major airports around the country (New York, Atlanta, Chicago, LA) are all shut down for a day or two! Getting a bomb onto a single airplane would be nothing in comparison to shutting down an entire airport.

    It all makes me wonder (even more) as to just how silly all of our security procedures have become. If terrorists really wanted to attack us, they assuredly would have already done so.

  3. F.G. Fitzer says:

    That, or a terrorist could carry a platypus into an airport security line…

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