Tetrapod Zoology

When all promises are met

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Here’s the plan over the next week or so…

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Australia, land of placentals; more sheep; giant anguids, legless and not; and It’s all about me. Amazing social life of green iguanas to be published soon, and what about those long-promised posts on vampire pterosaurs, proto-narwhals, Piltdown, plethodontids, the probing guild, Cenozoic sebecosuchians and more Triassic crurotarsans? Yikes, I really do need more hours in my life.

Thanks to all for the congrats on the job, but don’t get your hopes up as goes Primeval and other such projects.

Comments

  1. #1 Anthony Docimo
    May 7, 2007

    Looking forwards to all that is impending.

    And hopes or not, we will sleep better, knowing that you are part of the team behind such series as Primeval.

  2. #2 Greg Davies
    May 8, 2007

    Darren, well done on the new job! That is fantastic news! Hopefully you will still find time to blog regularly.

    Incidentally, I was browsing your Cuscomys post from last year, and wondered if you had heard the exciting news of the discovery of vizcachas (Lagidium, possibly sp. n.) in southern Ecuador? Really cool rodents, of course, and seemingly overlooked in Ecuador all this time.

    For those interested, pdf of the paper available here:
    http://www.cricyt.edu.ar/mn/indice/pdf/13_2/werner.pdf

  3. #3 Pavel I. Volkov
    May 8, 2007

    Darren, and what about uintatheres mentioned a long time ago? And astrapotheres?

  4. #4 johannes
    May 8, 2007

    > Darren, and what about uintatheres mentioned a long time ago? And
    astrapotheres?

    Pavel, are you sure you mean astrapotheres, not pyrotheres? Pyrotheres are said to be related to uintatheres (although this is quite controversial), astrapotheres are not*. Astrapotheres and pyrotheres are quite easy to confuse, both were large animals with tusks and a trunk, resembling a primitive mastodon at the first glance, both might have been swamp dwellers, and both were living in South America (and perhaps Antarctica – I don’t think they made it to Australia, but who knows?) at roughly the same time (Paleogene).

    By the way, what happened to the idea that uintatheres – and pyrotheres – were members of our own clade eurarchontoglires?

    *of course they are interisting enough in their own right!

  5. #5 Darren Naish
    May 8, 2007

    Relaaax, one day I’ll cover dinoceratans, astrapotheres and pyrotheres. One day, one day….

    The idea that Johannes alludes to – that dinoceratans are ‘giant horned bunnies’ (specifically, descendants of anagalidans) – is discussed by Lucas & Schoch (1998), but I don’t have this in front of me and can’t recall where it comes from. I’ll check when I get home.

    Ref – -

    Lucas, S. G. & Schoch, R. M. 1998. Dinocerata. In Janis, C. M., Scott, K. M. & Jacobs, L. L. (eds) Evolution of Tertiary Mammals of North America. Volume 1: Terrestrial Carnivores, Ungulates, and Ungulatelike Mammals. Cambridge University Press, pp. 284-291.

  6. #6 Georgalis Georgios
    May 8, 2007

    Astrapotheria and Pyrotheria in Australia??
    Strange….Looking forward to learning more

  7. #7 Darren Naish
    May 8, 2007

    Oh yeah, thanks Greg for the kind comments and the heads-up on the new vizcachas. No, I hadn’t heard about this: very neat. People often ask me to blog about South American caviidan rodents for some reason. One day I will, honest.

  8. #8 johannes
    May 9, 2007

    > Astrapotheria and Pyrotheria in Australia??

    Rumours of placental “elephant” fossils in Australia had been around forever, but nothing technical has been published yet.

    Polidolopids were present in South America, Antarctica and Australia; and of course the ancestors of the recent australidelphians, probably microbiotheres – who are still alive and well in South America (the monito del monte) today – must have made it to Australia, too.

    Polidolopids, microbiotheres and astrapotheres (Trigonostylops) are all part of the antarctic Seymour Island fauna, and if the first two made it to Australia, logic doesn’t rule out that the astrapotheres made it, too. Fossil evidence, however, is lacking.

  9. #9 Darren Naish
    May 9, 2007

    Rumours of placental “elephant” fossils in Australia had been around forever, but nothing technical has been published yet.

    Well, there’s more than rumours. The specimens were figured and described by Richard Owen, and figured again, and discussed, by Rich (1991), IIRC. He concluded that the specimens definitely did represent real Australian elephant fossils, but he concluded that their origins remain mysterious. It’s possible that they represent the remains of carcasses that floated over from SE Asia. There are some ridiculous records of modern elephant carcasses being discovered in the sea off Australia, though it’s possible that these were captive individuals that got lost/dumped from ships.

    Ref – -

    Rich, T. H. 1991. Monotremes, placentals, and marsupials: their record in Australia and its biases. In Vickers-Rich, P., Monaghan, J. M., Baird, R. F. & Rich, T. H. (eds) Vertebrate Palaeontology of Australia. Pioneer Design Studio (Lilydale, Victoria), pp. 893-1070.

  10. #10 Cameron
    May 9, 2007

    And if I recall correctly, didn’t Michael Bright mention elephant carcasses ranging from dozens of miles off Sri Lanka to in the North Sea? I don’t recall him citing for those stories (at least clearly) but it is interesting that there appear to be more of them. Hopefully the source for the Australian records is somebody other than Rex Gilroy. I’m surprised nobody in the fortean crowd has jumped on these Inexplicable Elephant Carcasses yet.

  11. #11 Raymond
    May 9, 2007

    “Well, there’s more than rumours. The specimens were figured and described by Richard Owen, and figured again, and discussed, by Rich (1991), IIRC. He concluded that the specimens definitely did represent real Australian elephant fossils, but he concluded that their origins remain mysterious. It’s possible that they represent the remains of carcasses that floated over from SE Asia. There are some ridiculous records of modern elephant carcasses being discovered in the sea off Australia, though it’s possible that these were captive individuals that got lost/dumped from ships.”

    Several of the fossils were recovered from cave deposits IIRC.They are definitively *Elephas*?No chance they’re *Stegodon*?I wouldn’t be surprised if a pleistocene or early holocene record for either was verified in australia at some point, given that *Stegodon* and *Elephas* of normal proportions are known from timor and sulawasi respectively.Proboscideans are fairly good dispersers.

  12. #12 Sordes
    May 10, 2007

    This reminds me of the proposed former presence of elephants at Madagascar.

  13. #13 Darren Naish
    May 10, 2007

    1. I just checked, and the paper proposing an affinity between dinoceratans and anagalidans is Schoch & Lucas (1985). The same paper also argues that Dinocerata and Pyrotheria are close allies, forming the clade Uintatheriomorpha. These authors proposed the same theory of affinity in various other papers. More on it later.

    2. After digging around, I can confirm that the ‘Australian elephant fossils’ were not discussed by Rich (1991) as I stated earlier (sorry Tom). I did, at least, have the right volume however: the paper concerned is Vickers-Rich & Archbold (1991). Discussing Richard Owen’s role in the early description of Australian vertebrate fossils, these authors state…

    Because of his prodigious publication record, a few, but only a few, mistakes crept into his work, such as his description of an elephant (supposedly a mastodont) from Australia. Many people (Leichhardt 1855, Falconer 1863) questioned the authenticity of the elephant record in Australia, and it has been suggested that the specimen probably entered as a trade item. After the challenge by Falconer, Owen quietly abandoned his claim (Dugan 1980).

    I haven’t seen Leichhardt 1855, Falconer 1863 or Dugan 1980, let alone the original Owen paper that started this, so can’t comment further. An interesting case though.

    Refs – -

    Schoch, R. M. & Lucas, S. G. 1985. The phylogeny and classification of the Dinocerata (Mammalia, Eutheria). Bulletin of the Geological Institutions of the University of Uppsala 11, 31-58.

    Vickers-Rich, P. & Archbold, N. W. 1991. Squatters, priests and professors: a brief history of vertebrate palaeontology in terra australis. In Vickers-Rich, P., Monaghan, J. M., Baird, R. F. & Rich, T. H. (eds) Vertebrate Palaeontology of Australia. Pioneer Design Studio (Lilydale, Victoria), pp. 1-39

  14. #14 Pavel I. Volkov
    May 11, 2007

    Darren, I see, it’s time to tell about Dinocerata, pyrotheres and other paleo-wonders.

  15. #15 David Marjanovi?
    May 14, 2007

    Polidolopids were present in South America, Antarctica and Australia

    What? Australia, too?

    Schoch, R. M. & Lucas, S. G. 1985. The phylogeny and classification of the Dinocerata (Mammalia, Eutheria). [...]

    Robert M. “branchiosaur ontogeny” Schoch? Wow.

  16. #16 Darren Naish
    May 14, 2007

    Robert M. “branchiosaur ontogeny” Schoch? Wow.

    No, the temnospondyl worker is Rainer Schoch; the Palaeogene mammal worker is Robert M. Schoch. However, can anyone confirm for me whether the latter Robert Schoch is the same Robert Schoch well known for his work on the Great Sphinx, the pyramids, and other stuff on egyptology? I think it is.

  17. #17 johannes
    May 14, 2007

    > What? Australia, too?

    David, look here: http://www.lostkingdoms.com/facts/factsheet16.htm

  18. #18 David Marjanovi?
    May 14, 2007

    Oops! :-] Strange how I got the first name of the non-branchiosaur Schoch right.

    http://www.lostkingdoms.com/facts/factsheet16.htm

    Oh, yeah. “Several teeth”. Well. :-)

  19. #19 johannes
    May 14, 2007

    > Oh, yeah. “Several teeth”. Well. :-)

    The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth …

  20. #20 DDeden
    May 15, 2007

    Co-Authored by Schoch, a geologist by profession IIRC, also wrote about ancient Egyptians arriving from the sinking Sunda subcontinent. AFAICT.

  21. #21 Edgar
    May 16, 2007

    Hello!

    Here from Ecuador, i just seen the chinchilla article, and, wow, is very cool….i guess the population was overlooked because Cariamanga zone was until recent years a very low populated and frontier area, with strong emigration indexes, only on recent years the human population had to rise, for other side, here the biological studies are still very embrionic, and, well my country is open to discoveries…curious that a population of Peruvian looking chinchilla isolated just at the north border of Sechura desert…….

  22. #22 coturnix
    June 28, 2007

    Any commentary on the new Wikelski paper in PLoS-ONE on mate choice in marine iguanas?

  23. #23 Darren Naish
    June 29, 2007

    I haven’t seen it yet – thanks for the heads-up…

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