Science: Inefficient Cousins

Nature made a good many tries before it made mammals. Some of the experiments left no living descendants. But an accident of geology turned the continent of Australia into an evolutionary Deepfreeze where various inefficient cousins of the modern mammals have survived, protected from competition.

The New York Zoological Society (Bronx Zoo) recently imported a curious assortment of these Down Under oddities: three platypuses; two echidnas (egg-laying "hedgehogs"); two Tasmanian devils; various phalangers and kangaroos. Now the zoo can show in full series the main biological tries that raised the mammals, including man,...

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