Tetrapod Zoology

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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…

Over the past several months months and months I’ve been trying to complete a series of articles on the various sac- and pocket-like head and neck structures that have evolved in such diverse mammals as apes, horses, camels and baleen whales (links to the previous articles in the series are provided below). In an effort…

The sauropod viviparity meme

Fossils demonstrate beyond any doubt that Mesozoic dinosaurs laid eggs, as of course do all dinosaurs today. But back during the 1960s, 70s and 80s – back when Robert Bakker and his idea about dinosaur biology were regularly featured in magazines and other popular sources – the scientific community was (sarcasm alert) delighted and enthralled…

The interconnectedness of ecosystems and their components is, today, a familiar concept. Top predators eat herbivores, herbivores eat plants, and top predators keep so-called meso-predators in check too. But perhaps it isn’t appreciated enough just how interconnected things can be. Cristina Eisenberg’s excellent 2010 book The Wolf’s Tooth: Keystone Predators, Trophic Cascades and Biodiversity draws…