Tetrapod Zoology

Archives for March, 2010

The Madagascan cuckoo-roller or Courol* Leptosomus discolor is a distinctive, large-headed, short-legged predatory bird that inhabits the forests of Madagascar and the Comores [adjacent photo of male Courol taken at Vakona in Madagascar; image courtesy of Mary Blanchard]. It’s superficially similar to true rollers (Coraciidae) and ground-rollers (Brachypteraciidae) but, unlike them, has semi-zygodactyl feet (though…

I like to think that I’ve done my bit for babirusa promotion. Hopefully you agree. And babirusas could do with lots of promotion – not only are they fascinating and bizarre, they’re globally endangered and in real need of protection (if you want to know more, check out Babirusa.org). I’m pleased to announce that my…

Tyrant dinosaurs – properly called tyrannosauroids – are most usually associated with the Late Cretaceous of North America. Of course, if you know anything about dinosaurs you’ll also know that many tyrants were Asian. So, the most familiar tyrants – the big, short-armed kinds like Tyrannosaurus, Tarbosaurus, Albertosaurus and Daspletosaurus (all of which belong to…

Ducks – like the Mallards Anas platyrhynchos shown here – lead fairly violent sex lives. As I said in a previous article… [A]s you’ll know if you’ve spent any time watching ducks, ‘forced extra-pair copulations’ are very common in ducks. The Mallard Anas platyrhynchos is the best (or should that be worst?) example of the…

A lot of zoos have very neat murals and other works of art. Over the weekend we visited Marwell here in Hampshire: it’s our ‘local’ zoo and we go there a lot. I really like the ‘march of the penguins’ feature they have on the outside of the penguin pool. Here’s Will, looking at each…

Captive pheasants Phasianus colchicus frequently practise cannibalism: this isn’t necessarily as gruesome as it sounds, but mostly consists of repetitive pecking or picking that opens wounds or results in the removal of toes. In chicks, toe and beak picking are common, while vent, wing and head picking more frequently occurs in older birds. Open, bleeding…

The anteater that wasn’t

As some of you might know, all of my ‘free’ time last month was eaten up by a major project (a book chapter) that had a very tight deadline. This meant no time whatsoever for such stuff as blog-writing, hence the (mostly) recycled babirusa stuff. That project is now (mostly!) complete, but I’m still struggling…

It turns out that Martinus van Tee of Caricature a day (and of martinus van tee illustration) is a big fan of Tet Zoo, and obviously of babirusas too. Yes, here’s me, Flintstone-style, riding a familiar artiodactyl. Have I written about babirusas on Tet Zoo? – – I can’t remember. Thanks indeed Martinus, truly I…

Waterfowl (or wildfowl, or anseriforms, or ducks, geese, swans and kin) are awesome. Last year saw the publication of a particularly freakish, recently extinct member of the group that’s been known to some of us for a while: the surreal Hawaiian duck Talpanas lippa Olson & James, 2009 from Kauai*. I’ll admit that I missed…

The literature

Even in this day and age – when anyone who’s anyone has a huge personal pdf archive – ‘dead tree’ libraries are still used by many (or most?) of us.