Tetrapod Zoology

Archives for October, 2008

Shocking inter-racial sex scenes

During the breeding season male frogs are compelled to grab moving objects and engage them in amplexus, the tight ‘breeding clasp’ that occurs either under the forelimbs (axillary amplexus) or around the waist (inguinal amplexus), depending on the species. Amplexus is assisted by roughened pads of tubercles or even small spikes on the male hand,…

Do you remember the photo – provided courtesy of Colin McHenry – showing a variety of crocodilian skulls? I published it in an article on the CEE Functional Anatomy meeting, and here it is again. The challenge was to try and identify the largest skull. Suggestions included Saltwater croc Crocodylus porosus, outsized American croc C.…

Yay – another one from the archives. This article first appeared on Tet Zoo ver 1 in April 2006 (here). If you’ve read it before, please have the decency to pretend that you haven’t, thanks [excellent macronarian sauropods below from wikipedia]. I’ve stated before on this blog that I do quite a bit of consultancy…

In 1993 a Japanese film crew led by Nadaka Tetsuo succeeded in filming a large animal swimming in the waters of Lake Dakataua on New Britain (the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago, just north-east of New Guinea). Supposedly, the lake was the haunt of an aquatic creature called the migo or masali, and here…

A beast in the water

Identify the tetrapod. I think this is easy. You might agree, you might not. But then do something else: state the significance of what you can see. That might not be so easy, but then it might. Incidentally, more mysterious aquatic creatures to come soon (in a somewhat longer post): this time of the Lake…

Today sees the formal publication of the bizarre little Chinese maniraptoran theropod Epidexipteryx hui Zhang et al., 2008 from the Daohugou Formation of Ningcheng County, north-eastern China. Unfortunately the publication of this new species is not quite the surprise it should be, as the authors inadvertently submitted their manuscript to the wrong venue a few…

Yes, it’s true. As revealed by my most redoubtable friend and ally Nemo Ramjet, Amerindian people knew of giant flightless azhdarchids long before their possible existence was hypothesised about here at Tet Zoo (follow-ups here and here). Depicting these animals in their artwork, they symbolised them as the great bird Kaloo: this was the most…

Within recent years, the Palaearctic tortoise fauna has undergone a radical change. If you’re interested in the recognition and discovery of new species, in controversy and argument about the status of species, in neat evolutionary stuff such as resource polymorphism and resource-mediated dwarfism, and, least of all, in tortoises, then you should find this a…

Why I hate plastic tampon applicators

Last weekend I and about 40 other people worked together in another effort to rid the shore at Chessel Bay Nature Reserve, Southampton (UK), of rubbish. We didn’t succeed of course – if only that were possible – but, as always, picking up humanity’s discarded crap gives you plenty to think about. Here are various…

Perhaps the weirdest chicks of all

What is this bizarre fuzzy little creature? It’s a Black coucal Centropus grillii chick, and what makes it particularly interesting is that it’s covered with simple, tubular, unbranched feathers (termed trichoptiles). If you know the literature on the evolutionary development of feathers you will have noticed that trichoptiles look suspiciously similar to the ‘stage 1…