Tetrapod Zoology

Archives for March, 2009

I used to receive random unsolicited emails from an individual who strongly promoted the idea that birds could not not not not be dinosaurs, that the entire dinosaur family tree was screwed up beyond belief, that ‘dinosaurs’ had evolved from random assorted diverse archosaurs, that cladistics was rubbish, and that all mainstream palaeontologists were idiots.…

Every now and again a carcass of a large marine animal washes up on a beach somewhere: local people and journalists identify it as a monster, and all hell breaks loose. Inevitably, the carcass turns out to be a decomposing whale or shark. Typically, it now becomes known that a person who arrived at the…

Thunder beasts of New York

I may as well finish what I started. Inspired by the two recent brontothere articles, Dan Varner and Mike P. Taylor were kind enough to supply the pictures you see here. Both feature Megacerops specimens displayed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Thunder beasts in pictures

Yesterday’s brief look at brontotheres was such a rip-roaring success I thought I’d do a little bit more on them (on members of Brontotheriidae that is, not on rip-roaring successes). No time for a proper article: all I’ve done here is to take screen-shots of various powerpoint slides (from a perissodactyl lecture I give), and…

Here’s a photo Matt Wedel took in the Raymond Alf Museum in Claremont, California. The lined-up skulls belong (I think) to Megacerops, the large to very large Late Eocene brontothere previously known as Brontotherium. Like most other brontotheriine brontotheres it has reduced, globular upper incisors and is very wide at the back of the skull.…

Last weekend I did the beach clean-up thing again, and again I went along with my son, my mum (Sandra), and about 40 other people. There’s always something new to say about the problem of litter and plastic pollution: once again, I thought I’d pen some random musings on the experience, and on the problem…

By complete coincidence – honestly! – we looked yesterday at discovery rates among terrestrial mammals. All indications are that many species remain to be discovered. It should also be well known, and I hope it is, that the same is true for large marine vertebrates: recent discoveries, and extrapolations based on discovery rates, indicate that…

Hopefully it is well known that we still have a lot to learn about the planet’s extant macrofauna. And, by ‘macrofauna’, I’m not talking about nematodes, molluscs or insects but, yes, about such things as mammals. In fact, on mammals specifically, discovery rates indicate that we really should expect the discovery of new species for…

RoboCroc

Tales of animals that have undergone reconstructive surgery, or end up with prosthetic attachments, always make the news: wheels in place of tortoise legs [example] and that sort of thing. As reported in the Mail online (and other sources) a few days ago, during December 2008 an unfortunate 3-m long, wild American crocodile Crocodylus acutus…

Before I start: TIANYULONG TIANYULONG TIANYULONG TIANYULONG TIANYULONG. Ok, moving on… It is the contention of some that the field of Mesozoic reptile research is plagued with bizarre, nonsensical hypotheses. You may or may not agree with me that skim-feeding giant pterosaurs, wind-surfing sail-crested pterosaurs, dedicated-to-scavenging Tyrannosaurus, and crampon-using dromaeosaurs are all, shall we say,…