tetrapodzoology

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Darren Naish

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May 5, 2011
In January 2011, Junchang Lü, David Unwin, Charles Deeming and colleagues published their Science paper on the amazing discovery of an egg-adult association in the Jurassic pterosaur Darwinopterus (Lü et al. 2011) [the specimen is shown here: image courtesy of Junchang Lü, Institute of Geology…
May 3, 2011
If you're a regular reader you'll have seen the recent article on those African 'great bubalus' depictions and on how they might (or might not) be representations of the large, long-horned bovin bovid Syncerus antiquus. As discussed in that article, S. antiquus - long thought to be a species of…
April 29, 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…
April 28, 2011
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…
April 25, 2011
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 figurine…
April 22, 2011
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…
April 21, 2011
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…
April 20, 2011
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…
April 18, 2011
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…
April 16, 2011
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…
April 15, 2011
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…
April 14, 2011
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,…
April 13, 2011
A group of serotine-like bats that occur in North America, Cuba, tropical Africa, Asia and Australasia have often been grouped together in a 'tribe' called Nycticeini (or Nycticeiini: both spellings are used in the bat literature and I'm unsure which has proper precedence). Tate (1942) used this…
April 12, 2011
Once upon a time, a huge variety of small to very small vesper bats - basically all of those that possess a simple tragus, a shortish face, two pairs of upper incisors and two upper and two lower premolars - were lumped together as the pipistrelles. You don't have to have a detailed or expert…
April 10, 2011
Vesper bats. Well done with sticking with it all so far - I have lots of non-bat stuff I want to cover, but (for reasons soon to be explained) I need to get this series finished. With this article - part XI in the series (XI) - we are not at the end. But we are at the beginning of the end. Look…
April 7, 2011
About 12 species of big-eared Australasian bats are known as the, err, Australian big-eared bats and New Guinean bats. More formally, they are the Nyctophilus species. They're also known from some of the islands that surround New Guinea (like the Lesser Sundas), and also from New Caledonia (an…
April 6, 2011
Hey, if anyone out there is bored with the bats, just gimme a shout. If you're loving it, say so, and urge me to post more - there's still a lot to come! Yes, welcome once again to the vesper bat series: for previous installments see the list of links at the bottom of this article. We continue…
April 3, 2011
Now that all the fuss about modern-day sauropod dinosaurs has died down, we can get back to the serious business of vesper bats (incidentally, I do plan to cover the mokele-mbembe - in serious fashion - at some point in history). For previous parts in the vesper bats series, please look at the…
March 31, 2011
PLEASE NOTE (ADDED 2012): IT SHOULD BE EXTREMELY OBVIOUS THAT THIS ARTICLE IS AN APRIL FOOL'S JOKE, NOT A DESCRIPTION OF REAL RESEARCH. Today sees the publication of what is surely the century's most significant zoological discovery. After decades of searching, Africa's mystery Congolese swamp…
March 27, 2011
In the previous article we looked at the majority of taxa included within the 'plecotin' group. As discussed therein, while there may be a clade of 'core plecotins', the traditional concept of the group might be paraphyletic. Some plecotins - Idionycteris in particular - might even be outside the…
March 25, 2011
Yay, more vesper bats! The groups we've looked at so far have - in anatomical terms - been pretty conservative. This time round we're looking at a really remarkable group; as is so often the case, their familiarity (relative to so many others of the world's bats) means that we tend to forget or…
March 23, 2011
One of the largest and most successful vesper bat clades is Myotis, the little brown bats or mouse-eared bats. As you can see from the simplified cladogram shown right down at the bottom of this article, recent work indicates that they form the sister-taxon to the remaining vespertilionine vesper…
March 21, 2011
Time to continue our trek across the vesper bat cladogram. In the previous article we looked at the bent-winged bats (or miniopterids, or miniopterines): a highly distinctive, morphologically novel group that seem to have diverged from vesper bats proper something like 45 million years ago. Their…
March 19, 2011
Welcome to part III of the vesper bat series though, as we'll see, the bats I'm covering here are not really vesper bat at all (anymore, and in the strictest sense of the term 'vesper bat'). They are the extremely strange, highly widespread long-winged bats, long-fingered bats or bent-winged bats…
March 17, 2011
So, in the previous article we introduced vesper bats (sensu lato) as a whole, covered the idea that they're pretty diverse in morphology and behaviour, and also looked quickly at where they seem to fit within the bat family tree as a whole. As you'd predict for a diverse group of over 400…
March 16, 2011
Bats are one of those groups of animals that I've come back to on several separate occasions, yet have never dealt with in satisfactory fashion (that is, comprehensively). Seeing as the group includes over 1110 living species, I hope that this is forgivable. But I have plans, and over the last few…
March 15, 2011
Well, the whole 'distributed denial of service' thing has done a pretty effective job of keeping me away from Tet Zoo entirely. No chance to blog, and not even the chance to look at the site at all - so, wow, thanks for keeping the protobats discussion going (97 98 comments... not bad). While…
March 5, 2011
Reconstructions of the earliest phases of bird evolution - of 'near-birds' or 'protobirds', if you will - are pretty familiar, and hypothetical 'proto-pterosaurs' are also relatively familiar thanks to their appearance in the mainstream literature (Wellnhofer 1991, Unwin 2006). However, have you…
March 3, 2011
I don't have time for anything at the moment, it's terrible. So here's this, from one of my talks on marine mammal diversity and evolution... For more on Pezosiren portelli, see Domning (2001); the diagram contrasting the prorastomid, protosirenid and crown-sirenian is from Domning (2000). The…
February 28, 2011
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 musings…