Tetrapod Zoology

Tet Zoo picture of the day # 21

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To date, I would say that all the ‘mystery pictures’ I’ve posted have been way too easy, as is demonstrated by the fact that the vast majority of visitors are able to guess them correctly straight away…

A baboon skull. Frogmouth bristles. A paca’s head. The problem is, when you’re preparing such a picture it’s quite difficult to know how easy or difficult it is. Take this picture here. To me the identity of the creature is really obvious, but that might be because I am, obviously, familiar with the original image. So I think it’s dead easy, and maybe it is. I won’t be surprised if you all guess it correctly, sigh. But on the off-chance that it proves ultra-difficult then: ha-ha-ha, vegeance is mine.

[no guess allowed from the person who took the photo, or the person who was with him on the same trip. You know who you are, denizens of Sesame Street]

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UPDATE (added 7-7-2007): well done Mike Keesey, and – to a lesser extent – Carel and the others who identified it as a giraffe’s tongue. It is a close-up shot of the underside of an Okapi’s tongue. I’m pleased that it fooled so many of you into thinking that it might be part of a turtle’s neck, or a salamander’s body. If you look to the left of the image you can see a slight blur: this shows that the object was moving fairly rapidly. The dark brown area to the right is obviously the okapi’s mouth, and at least one hair is visible there: that’s the ‘integumentary structure’ I referred to (obviously a giveaway that the animal is not a turtle or salamander). Anyway, there we have it. I’ve written a short blurb on okapis previously here, and of course for more on giraffids you’ll want to see the articles here and here. Other giraffids, like sivatheres and fossil giraffines, will be covered one day soon. The photo was taken by Mark Witton on one of our famous visits to Marwell Zoological Park in Hampshire: the Sesame Street reference refers to the fact that Mark and Graeme have recently been likened to Bert and Ernie…


  1. #1 Roger
    July 6, 2007

    Galapagos tortoise?

  2. #2 Shawn
    July 6, 2007

    Well, this one is definately more difficult. It’s the ear of something…I think? Domestic goat? Or maybe it’s a horn…or an electric eel. :)

  3. #3 AE
    July 6, 2007

    Looks like some sort of sea turtle to me.

  4. #4 fuzhong
    July 6, 2007

    side-necked turtle (Pleurodira) of some kind?

  5. #5 Jerzy
    July 6, 2007

    There is a find underside. Wels/European catfish? But is it tetrapod?

  6. #6 Dave Godfrey
    July 6, 2007

    Mud puppy? I’m assuming it isn’t an eel as this is Tetrapod Zoology. Its hard to tell from the photo if the animal is underwater or not.

    Perhaps the rare and elusive Inner Tube-snake.

  7. #7 Darren Naish
    July 6, 2007

    It is a tetrapod…

  8. #8 Mike Keesey
    July 6, 2007

    It really looks to me like a bronze outdoor sculpture rather than an animal itself. With tree leaves in the background, it also looks to be higher than the photographer, so it’s something sizeable.

    The main segment we see is rather featureless, so it’s not likely to be a limb. Must be part of the axial body or some kind of projection, like a horn. (If this blog wasn’t about tetrapods, I’d swear it was a tentacle.)

    Well, I gotta say it: I have no freakin’ clue.

  9. #9 Graham
    July 6, 2007

    Looking at the texture I’d guess that it was some kind of claw, possibly belonging to a Giant anteater, Sloth or some other animal with large claws.

  10. #10 CCP
    July 6, 2007

    pleurodire was a good idea.
    A siren?

  11. #11 DCN
    July 6, 2007

    “It really looks to me like a bronze outdoor sculpture rather than an animal itself. With tree leaves in the background, it also looks to be higher than the photographer, so it’s something sizeable.”

    This was my first thought as well. Base of a dino tail… perhaps Stegosaurus?

  12. #12 Alan Kellogg
    July 6, 2007

    Tetrapod, naked skin, no follicles, cylindrical trunk. I’m thinking amphibian, either salamander or caecilian.

  13. #13 Hai~Ren
    July 6, 2007

    What in the-? 0_0

    An aquatic salamander (Amphiuma? Siren? Mudpuppy? Axolotl?) in an aquarium?

  14. #14 Darren Naish
    July 6, 2007

    Ha ha – my trap has worked!

    Clue: look very very hard to the right, there is at least one give-away integumentary structure there… That’s the only clue you’re getting.

  15. #15 Raymond
    July 6, 2007

    Oh that’s easy, it’s a giraffe sticking out its tongue.

  16. #16 Weatherfac
    July 6, 2007

    Looks like a bird wing to me. I’m going to go with harpy eagle, Harpia harpyja.

  17. #17 PaulM
    July 6, 2007

    Looks a little to me like a horn with an ear in the background. Maybe a cow’s horn? It would certainly be a good choice considering the recent running of the bulls in Pamplona. The pic is the kind of view a runner would get if the bull caught them.

  18. #18 Mickey Mortimer
    July 6, 2007

    I’m guessing the base of the upper bill of a hornbill. But I see theropods everywhere, so…

  19. #19 Mike Keesey
    July 6, 2007

    Is it a tongue? An okapi tongue, maybe?

  20. #20 carel
    July 6, 2007

    Is it a giraffe tongue?

  21. #21 BlueMako
    July 6, 2007

    Looks almost like a bird’s wing to me, like a pigeon or something…

  22. #22 Graydon
    July 6, 2007

    Giraffe tongue.

  23. #23 Vasha
    July 7, 2007

    Is that an elephant’s foot?

  24. #24 sinuous tanystropheus
    July 7, 2007

    Some kind of long-necked turtle, like the Eastern Long Neck Turtle of Australia?

  25. #25 Andrea Cau
    July 7, 2007

    In the lower half I see what seems to be part of a big green “reptilian” eye: is it an “old-style” dinosaur sculpture?

  26. #26 rajita
    July 7, 2007

    I am really in admiration for those who guessed it was giraffe’s tongue !

  27. #27 Mike Keesey
    July 7, 2007

    Ha, awesome!

    That one was driving me nuts! Once I looked hard enough I noticed the lip and the hair, and from that point it was just a matter of remembering which mammal had a long, thick, purple tongue (giraffe?…) and a dark muzzle (… no, the giraffe’s little brother!).

  28. #28 Adrian
    July 7, 2007

    Rhinos don’t have horns because of the function of their horns: defend themselves from predators, look more intimidating to other rhinos. Put mutations into the equation a bit. I’m not a biologist, but I wish you’d elaborate a little bit more on the answer to that question “Why do rhinos have horns?” on askabiologist.org.uk
    I’m not the person who asked it.

  29. #29 Adrian
    July 7, 2007

    Nevermind, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

  30. #30 Mark Witton
    July 9, 2007

    Just for the record: we don’t share a bed and I don’t wear striped pyjamas. Nor is there the coexchange of ‘good night Graeme’ – ‘good night Mark’ before we retire to our respective bedrooms. Graeme has conceded that he did have a rubber duck when he was small but, in reality, I suspect Graeme is really the hybrid offsrping of a drunken night between Oscar the Grouch and the Cookie Monster, perhaps with some co-fertilisation from that giant mammoth-y type fella providing scope for immense, church-crunching size. A character based on this make-up was developed for Sesame Street but was later pulled when he devoured one of the children. Really.

    [from Darren: that’s what I’d heard]
    [PS – have you seen the Family Guy sketch on Bert and Ernie? ‘You’re shouting again Bert’]

  31. #31 Michael P. Taylor
    July 11, 2007

    Well, come on, then! Show us the full picture!

  32. #32 Sordes
    July 11, 2007

    I used the idea of the mytery-picture now also for my blog, just to look if I get any ressonance. In the last weeks, the Bestiarium did get many additional articles, and also many photos. Perhaps you can say me to which animal this body part belongs: http://bestiarium.kryptozoologie.net/?p=67

  33. #33 chris wemmer
    July 13, 2007

    I wasn’t going to touch that one with a barge pole. But if you showed me her lips, I would have dead on the mark!

  34. #34 Darren Naish
    July 13, 2007

    Yeah – I’m glad I never got round to offering a guess. I was thinking it might have been a macropod’s tail but couldn’t think of a species that matched. Now I know why..

  35. #35 chris wemmer
    July 14, 2007

    A giraffid memory worhty of mention came to me today as I was hiking. There’s this hysterical video on America’s Funniest Videos of a family in a drive-through zoo. I can’t remember if they fed the giraffe, but it sticks its muzzle in the car window, and then out comes this humongous tongue, which extends even further, explores, and starts slapping Mom’s face, the kids, everything. The family of course is totally freaked out. Its a wonderful lesson on the slobbery dangers of the giraffid tongue. LOL

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