Not since Baby Yoda had so many people collectively lost their minds over an impossibly cute Baby Thing.
If you’re wondering what we’re talking about, meet Baby Platypus. This impossibly cute life-form started doing the rounds on social media this week, delighting anybody and everybody who laid eyes on the tiny, delicate bub.
There’s only one problem, but unlike Baby Platypus, it’s a big one: Baby Platypus isn’t alive. It was never born, and those adorably squinty little eyes do not actually see.
Baby Platypus was made. Not by parents, but by human hands.
We need a SQUEE!!!
— Jeff “Zathras” Rueckgauer 👨💻 (@CapitalJeff) February 13, 2020
As many commenters were quick to point out after the image went viral, Baby Platypus is actually a small sculpture made by Serbian fantasy artist Vladimir Matić-Kuriljov.
You can view a couple of other images of Baby Platypus here on the ArtStation website, although we still think the original viral photo showcases Baby Platypus’s best side.
In addition to lots of exceptional paintings, Matić-Kuriljov also enjoys sculpting with a plastic-like material – the polymer clay Super Sculpey. You can also check out the artist’s rather adorable Baby Walrus, although the artist himself acknowledges that Baby Platypus is “probably the cutest thing I ever made”.
“The description of the piece on my ArtStation post clearly says [it’s a sculpture], it’s just the title that turned out to be misleading – ‘Stone Platypus Baby’,” Matić-Kuriljov told IFLScience.
“What I actually had in mind was an invented fantasy species of ‘stone platypus’, I never considered how it might be misinterpreted.”
Nonetheless, misinterpreted it was, as the little idol rippled across the internet. The fact that it went viral is just another reminder of how easily mistruths, hoaxes, and distortions can spread on social media.
Heck, it hasn’t even been that long since the last time the world got fooled by a fake Baby Platypus.
For reference, this is what a real baby platypus looks like:
That’s a sculpture, this is a real baby platypus. They look like a marshmallow flew into a speeding truck and grew a bill. I love them. pic.twitter.com/r5ITGfT079
— hairball (@Unknownxenoform) February 16, 2020
While we’re refreshing ourselves with reality, it’s worth exploring just how weird these creatures really are, with a strange attribute that could turn out to be a big deal for human health.
Baby platypuses – known as puggles – are born from eggs, but will also suckle on the mother once hatched, making them rare amongst a tiny handful of creatures who do this.
Once they grow older, they gain a venomous spur on their hind foot, which also places them amongst the few venomous mammals found on Earth.
#QuizTime: What do you call a baby platypus?
— Melbourne Water (@MelbourneWater) April 1, 2019
That’s all real. Sadly, Baby Platypus isn’t. As one tweeter lamented upon hearing the news: “You ruined everything.” But we still think real platypuses are awesome.