Tetrapod Zoology

Archives for May, 2011

On May 24th 2011, photographer Mark Harrison took a few photos of the large marine creature he saw off the Wirral Peninsula, near Liverpool (UK). Harrison initially thought that the animal might be a seal, but then decided to put the photos online as a sort of joke. Several newspapers then ran the photos as…

Cambodia: now with dibamids!

Dibamids are a weird and very neat group of fossorial, near-limbless squamates that I’ve long planned to cover at Tet Zoo. Little is known about them and how they might relate to other squamates has long been the subject of debate (they might be close to amphisbaenians, but links with gekkotans, skinks and snakes have…

Squamozoic sneak-peek # 2

When unable to find time to do anything else, resort to posting Squamozoic sneak-peeks (previous example here)… This scene – ‘Riverbank ambush’ – features a giant macro-predatory amphisbaenian and some surprised gekkotans. Colouring by Tim Morris. Feel free to discuss among yourself. Kinda busy right now…

Steve Sweetman and I have just published a paper on a new maniraptoran theropod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Wealden Supergroup of East Sussex, England (Naish & Sweetman 2011). As you might know if you’re a regular reader, much of my technical work has been devoted to Wealden theropods and I publish papers on them…

I’ve long had a special interest in the sleeping habits of small birds. In fact, as you’ll know if you read the article I published here back in September 2008*, I’ve covered this issue before. In that article, I noted that at least some passerines secrete themselves away in crevices or thick foliage. I first…

Birds vs planes II

It’s a sad fact of life that, as long as there are aircraft, and as long as there are birds, there will be collisions between aircraft and birds. I did in fact cover the issue of bird-strikes back in January 2008, but since then I’ve learnt a few new things that I’d like to share.

During the June and July of 2010 I and a host of friends and colleagues based at, or affiliated with, the University of Portsmouth attended the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. As you’ll know if you saw the articles and pictures I posted here at Tet Zoo, our research group set up and displayed the…

I love seeing tetrapod-themed art, especially in unexpected places. While in London recently I noticed this ‘tropical bird’ painting on a piece of wooden boarding, erected to conceal building work. As you can see (larger version below), the work is mostly a brilliant montage of birds-of-paradise (properly Paradisaeidae), the remarkable resplendent “rainforest crows in fancy…

If asked “Why do giraffes have such long necks?”, the majority of people – professional biologists among them – will answer that it’s something to do with increasing vertical reach and hence feeding range. But while the ‘increased vertical reach’ or ‘increased feeding envelope’ hypothesis has always been the most popular explanation invoked to explain…

On March 14th 2011 National Geographic screened episode 1 of their new series Wild Case Files (here in the UK, the episode was screened on April 11th), and the reason I’m writing about it is because I featured in said episode. The first section of the show was devoted to an investigation of the ‘Montauk…