Tetrapod Zoology

Its cute little face

i-86444c70813e0cab33b32bf00b877d31-its cute little face.jpg

Late in the evening I sat in an airport lounge, finally reading Robert Twigger’s book on python hunting, my head full of Robert Appleby’s legacy, fossil giraffes, giant mustelids, and the song from the end of Portal. I thought about the wolfhounds I’d seen, the bullfinches, stock doves and plovers; the bones we’d found; the teeth and vertebrae I’d handled or photographed; a futile search for hares and about the leverets I discovered in Germany once; the pile of correspondence I’d gone through; and the work I had yet to do on all those hundreds and hundreds of unlabelled diagrams. I thought about an imminent phd viva all about lemurs, about the hilarious conclusion to a paper I’d read that day on fossil frogs, about vampire squids and plesiosaurs, and about my friends in Guyana, looking for giant anacondas.

I came up with an idea for a novel, but knew I’d never bother to write it down.

i-6bcf1470c0fe36b34f4eda0b5d9ef35f-Corhampton 25-11-2007 wolfhound.jpg

Anyway, I’m back and trying to catch up. While you sit there, constantly clicking refresh and waiting for the next proper Tet Zoo article to appear (joke), why not have some fun and try to identify the creature shown in the image at the top? (not the wolfhound) If Mark Evans can remember the answer he’s not allowed to say it 🙂 Good luck.


  1. #1 Silvia P
    November 28, 2007

    It’s a trick – the big openings are nostrils, the smaller holes are fang holes for big lower jaw teeth. It’s a temnospondyl, I will say Mastodonsaurus.

  2. #2 Mike Keesey
    November 28, 2007

    Homo diluvii testis

  3. #3 neil
    November 28, 2007

    Looks turtley to me. I’ll say Carettochelys on the assumption that it’s something weird. Could be a skull of the elusive Putah Creek Placodont…

  4. #4 Andy Farke
    November 28, 2007

    Skull of Chelus fimbriatus, the matamata

  5. #5 Cameron
    November 28, 2007

    Huzzah for readily available 3D models on the internet!


    Unless this is some temnospondyl-related trick, I think the matamata has a good case.

  6. #6 DDeden
    November 28, 2007

    Tetrapod! (I’m getting better at this, I hope noticeably so.)

  7. #7 neil
    November 28, 2007

    we’ll I got the weird part right at least…

  8. #8 Darren Naish
    November 28, 2007

    Sorry – nope, it ain’t no matamata. I’ll spill the beans tomorrow. I wonder if anyone will get it before then..

  9. #9 Stevo Darkly
    November 28, 2007

    Some kind of aberrant flatheaded gorgonopsian …

  10. #10 Lars
    November 29, 2007

    A big tryonichid? The biggest species are South Asian, as I recall. Looks like one of those – the orbits are so far anterior – can’t remember any species names at present, though.

  11. #11 susan
    November 29, 2007

    Looks like a solid anapsid type skull. A turtle of some kind?

  12. #12 djlactin
    November 29, 2007

    “hilarious conclusion … to a paper on fossil frogs.” I’m more interested in that than this ID game! Spill!

  13. #13 Darren Naish
    November 29, 2007

    “hilarious conclusion … to a paper on fossil frogs.” I’m more interested in that than this ID game! Spill!

    Ok, but I warn you – it might only be me that finds this funny. The paper in question is…

    Nokariya, H. & Hasegawa, Y. 1998. Two fossil ranids from the Late Tertiary Kabutoiwa Formation, Gunma Prefecture, central Japan. Bulletin of Gunma Museum of Natural History 2, 1-10.

    After seven pages of detailed discussion and description of two new fossil frog specimens, the very last line in the paper (p. 7) is ‘Anyway it should be left to further study’. I’m sorry, but I laughed out loud on reading that.

  14. #14 johannes
    November 29, 2007

    Soft shelled turtle?

  15. #15 Emile
    November 29, 2007

    A softshell, perchance? Trionyx?

  16. #16 Hai~Ren
    November 29, 2007

    Chitra? Pelochelys?

    If not, then it’s either:

    a) gorgonopsian
    b) baboon
    c) sealion
    d) albino grey squirrel


  17. #17 Chris
    November 29, 2007

    The elusive Putah Creek Placodont? Is this a story I haven’t heard? (since I live within a mile of said creek….)

  18. #18 Steve Bodio
    November 29, 2007

    Turtle. Looks like a big (?) version of some of our fresh water species.

  19. #19 David Marjanovi?
    November 30, 2007

    I would have got that it’s a turtle, but I wasn’t there.

    For Mastodonsaurus or any temnospondyl the proportions are all wrong, and so are the smooth bones. Temnospondyl skulls are sculptured! (Insert “your mother has a smooth forehead” joke here.)

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