Predator

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A drop in the bucket – a massive pile of bison skulls about to be ground into fertilizer, photographed circa 1870. From Wikipedia. From almost the very start, wolves were not welcome in Yellowstone. When the national park was established by the United States government in 1872 the bison population had crashed – a victim…

African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), photographed at the Bronx Zoo. African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) don’t have it easy. Their taste for large mammalian prey puts them in competition with lions and spotted hyenas for both prey and living space, meaning that wild dogs regularly have their kills stolen or are even killed by other…

A leopard (Panthera pardus). Image from Wikipedia. When a leopard eats a baboon, what is left behind? This question is not only relevant to primatologists and zoologists. Even though instances of predation on humans is relatively rare, big cats still kill and consume people, and when they do they can virtually obliterate a body. Yet,…

A leopard (Panthera pardus). Image from Wikipedia. SK-54 is a curious fossil. The 1.5 million year old skullcap represents a juvenile Paranthropus robustus, one of the heavy-jawed hominins which lived in prehistoric South Africa, but there is something that makes this skull fragment particularly special. Near one of the sutures along the back of the…

A reconstruction of Smilodon, photographed at the American Museum of Natural History. When it comes to animals, encyclopedias often present us with generalized descriptions. Where a creature lives, what color it is, what it eats, and other tidbits of information are listed to distinguish one species from another, but what is lost is an appreciation…