Tetrapod Zoology

Archives for April, 2011

The Matamata is an incredible animal. A morphologically bizarre, highly cryptic, aquatic South American turtle, it’s equipped with a super-specialised wide, flattened skull and a host of peculiar features that allow it to engulf fish and other prey in deft acts of rapid suction. Surprisingly large (up to 1 m long), it has a very…

While chasing up sivathere stuff, I got distracted. Sorry. Among the most spectacular of extinct bovids is the Plio-Pleistocene African form Pelorovis, famous for its gigantic curved horns. These can span 3 m in fossil skulls, and were certainly even longer in the living animal. Pelorovis was built rather like a gigantic, long-horned version of…

I don’t do requests on Tet Zoo, but when enough people ask me about the same thing it does get into my head. Ever since the early days of ver 1 people have been asking me about late-surviving sivatheres. What, they ask, is the deal with those various pieces of rock art and that Sumerian…

Over the course of the previous 19 – yes, 19 – articles we’ve looked at the full diversity of vesper bat species (see links below if there are any parts you’ve missed). If you’ve been following the series on an article-by-article basis, you’ll hopefully now have a reasonable handle on the morphological, behavioural and ecological…

I find myself astonished by the fact that I’ve done it. With the publication of this article I’ve succeeded in providing a semi/non-technical overview of all the vesper bats of the world… or, of all the major lineages, anyway. Obviously, it hasn’t been possible to even mention all 400-odd vesper bat species, let alone all…

Among the best known, most widespread and most familiar of vesper bats are the pipistrelles. All bats conventionally regarded as pipistrelles are small (ranging from 3-20 g and 35-62 mm in head-body length), typically with proportionally short, broad-based ears and a jerky, rather erratic flying style.

Here we are, so close to the very end. I am pleased and surprised to find that we’re now looking at the vesper bats within Vespertilionini – the clade that (in the topology I’m using here: that of Roehrs et al. (2010)) includes the pipistrelles and noctules and their closest relatives. We’ll get to those…

By now (if, that is, you’ve been following this thrilling, roller-coaster ride of a series) we’ve gotten through the better part of vesper bat phylogeny: we’ve climbed ‘up’ the vesper bat cladogram and are now within the youngest major section of the group. Recent phylogenetic studies have recognised a serotine clade (Eptesicini or Nycticeiini), a…

As we’ve seen throughout this series (see links below for previous parts), recent phylogenetic studies have found a number of ‘pipistrelle-like non-pipistrelles’ to form a novel clade previously unsuspected from morphological studies [composite above shows – l to r – Hypsugo cf. joffrei (from Kruskop & Shchinov (2010)), Neoromicia capensis (from Fernloof Nature Reserve), and…

A group of mostly mid-sized pipistrelle-like bats of Africa and the northern continents are known as the serotines (Eptesicus) [species shown here is the one generally known simply as the Serotine E. serotinus: photo by Mnolf, from wikipedia]. Here in Europe this is – along with pipistrelles, noctules and long-eared bats – one of the…