To begin with, I want to thank everyone who continued to visit Tet Zoo while I was away – you managed to keep Tet Zoo in the top 5 on Nature Blog Network – and I was surprised and pleased that several long-running conversations developed in the comments section of the bunny-killing heron article. Awesome, thanks so much. My trip away was great and I had an excellent time, though what wasn’t so excellent is that it was literally sandwiched in between two family funerals. I’m ok now though…
For now, all I want to do is showcase the incredible new fossil sperm whale Acrophyseter deinodon, just described from the Pisco Formation by Lambert et al. (2008) and kindly brought to my attention by Tet Zoo regular Bobby Boessenecker (scale bar = 20 cm). I spent time at SVPCA talking with Felix Marx about ziphiids and mysticetes and with Yasmin Tulu about kentriodontids, so had a reasonable amount of cetacean exposure at the meeting. Like the killer sperm whales we looked at a while back, Acrophyseter deinodon is interpreted as a macropredator that predated smaller odontocetes, pinnipeds and penguins. It seems to be a stem-physeteroid outside of the kogiid-physeterid crown-group, and its specific name, which of course means ‘terrible tooth’, is very fitting (though was not deliberately coined with reference to the (now obsolete) generic name Deinodon).
Anyway, lots to deal with, but I’ll have more new stuff on the site soon. If you want stuff to do in the meantime, you could have fun by voting in the Dixie State College mascot selection process. To help publicise the amazing dinosaur tracks preserved at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm Museum, we want the college to have a dinosaur as a mascot: this is one of those public outreach, improve-dissemination-of-science things. Simply go here and suggest that dinosaurs (or, a dinosaur) be used as mascots. You know it would be wrong not to. Or, you could check out the extremely awesome interview with Mark Witton recently posted here at Go Flying Turtle (Mark’s own thoughts on this – and on other matters – can be found here. Mark’s flickr site is called, rather unimaginatively, Mark Witton’s Photostream, but I want it renamed Wittoniana). Incidentally, Mark and I were recently informed by the lovely people at PLoS ONE that our azhdarchid article has so far been visited more than 3000 times, which is – to say the least – pretty good even by PLoS ONE standards. This makes us the Most Famous Palaeozoologists Of All Time, the champions and heroes of our peers. Of course… it doesn’t, but it would be good.
Ref – –
Lambert, O., Bianucci, G. & de Muizon, C. 2008. A new stem-sperm whale (Cetacea, Odontoceti, Physeteroidea) from the latest Miocene of Peru. C. R. Palevol 7, 361-369.