from the archives

Tetrapod Zoology

Category archives for from the archives

I have a great liking for cassowaries, and I’ve had good reason to write about them several times. I’ve also had fun playing with preserved specimens and skeletons – something I must elaborate on at some time. Back in 2006 – the days of Tet Zoo ver 1 – I blogged some of my cassowary-related…

Why I hate Darwin’s beard

My recent brief mention of Thomas Huxley (in connection with the Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective volume) reminded me to look anew at this Tet Zoo ver 1 post from 2006… Here’s a little known fact. Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), the most important biologist of all time, did not spend his entire…

I’m away right now, and haven’t had time to prepare new stuff. So, here’s something from the archives again: by which I mean, something written in 2006. It’s still pretty interesting (in my humble opinion), but I would definitely do some things differently were I to re-write it today [gliding sifaka below from Demes et…

Inspired both by the clam catches oystercatcher story, and by Greg Laden’s coverage of oystercatcher learning and predation behaviour, I thought it an opportune time to recycle the following from Tet Zoo ver 1. It originally appeared as one of my Ten Bird Meme posts of 2006… One of my most favourite birds is the…

The most inconvenient seal

How the hell did seals get into Lake Baikal? Actually, if you’re a long-time reader you’ll know the answers that have been put forward (note there that I didn’t say “you’ll know the answer”), as I covered this issue back in 2006 on Tet Zoo ver 1. In the interests of recycling old stuff and…

No time for anything new (working on a book chapter and putting the finishing touches to the Tet Zoo book), so here’s this, from the archives. NOT properly updated, so please be aware that it’s more than four years old…

In the previous article we looked at the proposal that the various babirusa taxa – long regarded as subspecies – deserve to be raised to species rank. The argument goes that the taxa concerned are (1) morphologically diagnosable, (2) ‘as distinct’ as are other taxa traditionally regarded as species (raising the taxa to species level…

Welcome to yet another article in the (outstandingly successful, yet recycled from ver 1) series on babirusas. Observant readers will have noticed that, strangely, I’ve refrained thus far from using a scientific binomial for babirusas, plus I’ve consistently (I think) referred to them in the plural, and not as a single species. What gives?

The bipedal ‘boxing’ behaviour of babirusas is odd, but arguably odder is a unique sort of ‘ploughing’ behaviour they’ve recently been shown to practise. On being presented with an area of soft sand, captive babirusas (mostly males) have been noted to kneel down and push their head and chest forward through the sand, the result…

In the previous articles we looked at the distribution and phylogenetic position of babirusas, and also at a bit of their behaviour, biology and morphology. While babirusas are famous for the bizarre upper canines that emerge from the dorsal surface of the snout in males, the function of these teeth remains uncertain. As we saw…