How Did the Platypus Get ‘Down Under’?

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Originally published in Creation 13, no 1 (December 1990): 24.

Many have tried to lampoon God’s sober account of Noah’s world-wide Flood by asking how platypuses could travel from Mount Ararat to Australia.

Platypuses are found today as far as the southernmost parts of Australia, such as Tasmania. They live only in and around water, and are very hard to keep alive in captivity, even when one tries to imitate their natural environment.

Imagine, say these critics, the pair of platypuses that have come off the Ark and whose descendants are supposed to have ended up in Tasmania. How likely is it that these small, fragile creatures would survive the long, arduous journey to Australia?

The first problem is crossing the ocean—but that is not just a problem for creationists. Evolutionists themselves have long believed that the ancestors of marsupials such as kangaroos had to migrate to Australia. (Both living and fossil marsupials are found in other parts of the world.)

The lowering of sea level during an ice age...would mean that land ‘bridges’ would have become exposed.
Before continental drift became popular, evolutionists had pointed out that the lowering of sea level during an ice age (which creationists generally believe lasted for centuries after the Flood) would mean that land ‘bridges’ would have become exposed (more water would have been locked up at the poles). Animals could have walked from Asia to Australia. The obvious objection that there were still a few short stretches of deep water remaining was overcome by pointing out that at the time of this last ice age, in the so-called Pleistocene of the evolutionary timetable, large vertical earth movements had taken place.

Continental drift is another way of explaining this, for both evolutionists (the majority now believe in drift) and some creationists (a minority believe in some form of break-up of land-masses after the Flood, over much shorter timespans, of course). In this idea, the continents were once part of a greater land-mass that broke up and they moved away to where they are now. In this idea, the animals were ‘carried’ by the drifting continents.

So far, so good. But how could any platypus make a journey of tens of thousands of kilometres in its lifetime? And what about the fact that between Australia’s northern shores and Tasmania in the south are vast tracts of desert? The ridiculing can be imagined—the poor platypus, tongue hanging out, dragging itself across an endless parched desert…. However, this overlooks the fact that there is evidence accepted by all that Australia’s inland was once lush and green. Rainforests thrived where now there is harsh, red sand. This fits well with a world drying out for a long time after the Flood.

Also, it should be obvious that no individual platypus would have had to make the entire trip. Introduced rabbits have spread right across Australia in only a few decades—with each generation moving only a little distance from its parents. There were several centuries, hundreds of years, for platypus migrations to take place.

There are problems and research challenges, but animal distribution should present no insurmountable hurdles in accepting the divine record of the Flood.

(For a more detailed discussion, see the relevant chapter in the new publication The Answers Book, available from Creation Science Foundation, P.O. Box 302, Sunnybank, Qld, 4109, in Australia for $9.95 (plus $2 postage and packing—please remit in Australian dollars), and from Master Books, P.O. Box 1606, El Cajon, CA. 92072, in the USA for $8.95 plus $3 shipping (California residents add 7.25% sales tax).

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