Tetrapod Zoology

Archives for June, 2011

So sorry for the very short notice. The following airs here in the UK tonight (Thursday 30th June 2011), Channel 4. I look forward to it.

Geckos love Tet Zoo

If you didn’t know, I’ve been away. The last four articles that have appeared here were all scheduled to publish in my absence. I’ve been in Romania and Hungary where I had a great time – saw lots of neat animals (fossil and living) and hung out with some neat people. I’ll talk about some…

Hoopoes and woodhoopoes

Yet more from that book project (see the owl article for the back-story, and the hornbill article for another of the book’s sections). Hornbills, hoopoes and woodhoopoes are all similar in appearance and have been classified together in a group termed Bucerotes. Vague similarities with other long-billed, forest-dwelling birds (like woodpeckers, long-billed cuckoos and such…

Suppose you’re interested in the anatomy and biology of ground hornbills. Now suppose that you get the chance to make physical contact with one of these awesome birds. Here, at last, is the opportunity to get bitten!! Surely you’ve always wanted to know what it feels like when a ground hornbill bites you. No? Ok,…

An introduction to hornbills

More from the bird book. For the back-story, see the previous owls article. Hornbills are among the most distinctive and spectacular of Old World tropical birds. Often flaunting bright colours and sometimes reaching huge sizes (the largest species have wingspans of 1.8 m), they’re well known for their enormous, curved bills and large bony crests.…

There’s something they don’t tell you about freelance writing. It’s about all the fails: the many, many projects that get pitched, worked on and made into proper presentations that then get sent to book fairs, interested companies and so on, but ultimately explode on the launch pad, or die a slow, lingering death. I don’t…

The bearded pigs

One of the most remarkable pigs has to be the Bornean bearded pig Sus barbatus, one of two currently recognised bearded pig species. The other is the much smaller, shorter-faced Palawan bearded pig S. ahoenobarbus of the Philippines: genetic work suggests that S. ahoenobarbus is not a close relative of S. barbatus, but actually closer…

Giant owls vs solenodons

Here’s something you don’t see very often… This illustration (by Peter Trusler) shows the large Pleistocene Cuban owl Ornimegalonyx oteroi battling with a solenodon. Ornimegalonyx has been mentioned here a few times before (use the search bar), but nothing substantive, sorry. Most sources mention O. oteroi as if it’s the only named species of Ornimegalonyx.…

One of the strangest Mesozoic dinosaurs ever described has to be the African iguanodontian Lurdusaurus arenatus, named in 1999 for remains from the Lower Cretaceous Elrhaz Formation of Gadoufaoua, Niger (Taquet & Russell 1999). The Elrhaz Formation has also yielded the sail-backed iguanodontian Ouranosaurus, the rebbachisaurid sauropod Nigersaurus, the theropods Kryptops, Suchomimus and Eocarcharia, and…

On July 12th 2011 a very interesting thing is happening – interesting, that is, if you’re interested in the academic evaluation of cryptozoological data. ZSL (the Zoological Society of London) is hosting the meeting ‘Cryptozoology: science or pseudoscience?’. Speakers are Charles Paxton, Michael Woodley and myself. Henry Gee is acting as chair.