tetrapodzoology

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Darren Naish

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February 25, 2011
Back in May 2007 I wrote a few articles about the world's wild sheep (Welcome.... to the world of sheep and Return.... to the world of sheep). If you're here for the dinosaurs, pterosaurs, pygmy mammoths and lake monster photos, you might regard wild sheep as pretty boring animals. But they're…
February 22, 2011
It seems wrong not to talk, at least briefly, about the latest lake monster picture that's doing the rounds. It's a poor-quality mobile phone photo of a humped object, taken in England's Lake Windermere by Tom Pickles while he was kayaking as part of a team-building exercise. Here it is... (or,…
February 18, 2011
Time to finish one of those long-running series of Tet Zoo articles: at last, the long-awaited, much anticipated third and final instalment in the series on the clubs, spurs, spikes and claws present on the hands of numerous neornithine bird species. If you haven't done so already, do check out…
February 14, 2011
I love turkeys, and here I specifically mean the so-called Wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo and its domestic variants, not the Ocellated turkey M. ocellata (though - don't get me wrong, Ocellated turkeys are great too). Herewith a brief look into the world of turkeys (part of it recycled from Tet…
February 10, 2011
We know all too little about the biology and behaviour of the pterosaurs, the amazing, often bizarre flying reptiles of the Mesozoic Era. Most of our ideas - about feeding behaviour, locomotion, physiology and social and sexual behaviour - are inferences based on bones, or inferences based on…
February 8, 2011
I've just heard the tragic and saddening news that ornithologist Bradley Livezey died yesterday morning (Tuesday 8th February, 2011) following a car crash. It seems that his car lost traction due to snow and ice on the road surface and then collided with another vehicle. Brad was 56. I never met…
February 6, 2011
Borrowed from here on David's Really Interesting Pages (and used with permission: thanks David). A sort of homage to this article from last month.
February 4, 2011
In terms of its zoological diversity, Europe is the best known continent on the planet. Indeed it's generally assumed that just about all of Europe's macrofauna has, by now, been discovered. While that's mostly true, it seems that at least a few species - so called 'cryptic species' - have been…
February 2, 2011
One of my long-running plans on Tet Zoo has been to review passerine phylogeny. After decades of people saying that oscine passerines are (except larks and corvids) far too alike for anyone to construct a sensible phylogeny, a flurry of (mostly molecular) studies have meant that - as I like to say…
January 28, 2011
Please identify. If possible, make it more interesting by saying something about the animal's behaviour, ecology and/or phylogenetic position (believe me, there is plenty to say). As usual, a smug sense of self-satisfaction to the winner.
January 26, 2011
I really enjoyed the long and involved debate that followed my article on the small elephant depicted on the wall of Rekhmire's tomb. Thank you to (just about) everyone who contributed. As I tried to make clear in the actual article, we'll likely never know the truth of the matter, and this whole…
January 23, 2011
Welcome to part II of my musings on the 2010 blogging year. You'll need to have read the first part to make sense of it. The article you're reading now is extraordinarily long and I'd normally break up a piece of this length into two, three or even more separate articles. This year I want to get…
January 20, 2011
Today, my friends, is January 21st 2011. Do you know what this means? It means (drumroll)... that Tet Zoo is five years old today. Wow. Five years. With apologies to those who've heard the story before, things started in 2006 over at blogspot, and in 2007 Tet Zoo ver 2 kicked off here on…
January 19, 2011
One of the things that came up in the many comments appended to the article on Bob's painting of extinct Maltese animals was the famous Egyptian tomb painting of the 'pygmy mammoth'. You're likely already familiar with this (now well known) case: here's the image, as it appears on the beautifully…
January 16, 2011
The big buzz here in Hampshire (southern England) at the moment is the recent arrival of a White-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla. This magnificent raptor - it can have a wingspan of 2.4 m and is one of the biggest eagles in the world - is historically extinct in England, but individuals still…
January 14, 2011
It's well known that the islands of the Mediterranean were formerly home to an assortment of island endemics, all of which are now extinct. Most of the best known ones are mammals like pygmy elephants, pygmy hippos, pygmy megacerine deer and giant dormice, but there were also large birds, tortoises…
January 11, 2011
I read a lot of books in 2010, and mostly enjoyed all of them. Among my favourites was Luis Chiappe's Glorified Dinosaurs: The Origin and Early Evolution of Birds, and in the lengthy review article below (currently in press for Historical Biology) you can find what I thought of it. Note that…
January 9, 2011
Time to wrap up on the SJG special - make sure you see part I and part II first. Wow, I never thought I'd end up writing three long articles on this series of papers (hmm, a familiar theme). In the previous articles we looked at stegosaur systematics, and at Heinrich Mallison's work on the ranges…
January 5, 2011
If you read the previous article on stegosaurs you'll know that a collection of papers devoted to examination of this fascinating group appeared last year (2010) in a special issue of Swiss Journal of Geosciences (SJG from hereon). These papers resulted from a meeting held at the Sauriermuseum…
January 2, 2011
Whales are the most beautiful, perfect animals in the whole history of life. Shiny and flawless like pristine boiled eggs, they exist in perfect harmony with their environment, refuse to inflict needless suffering on other forms of life, and never suffer from disease or illness. Ha ha, just kidding…
December 29, 2010
Among the most iconic and remarkable of dinosaurs are the stegosaurs, a mostly Jurassic group of thyreophorans famous for the rows of spikes and plates that decorated their necks, backs and tails [somewhat inaccurate Stegosaurus stenops shown below. I did it many years ago]. As I'm fond of saying…
December 22, 2010
Am shutting up shop for Christmas - see you on the other side!
December 20, 2010
People often send me links to stories of the Indian cow that took to eating baby chickens. The story isn't at all new: it appeared in the press in March 2007, and at least one of the cow's lapses into carnivory was filmed. It's shown here (though see below). As with the epic cat fight, do NOT…
December 16, 2010
The increasing availability of automatic cameras (cameras set up to take photos on their own are known in the trade as camera traps) has been a great boon to field biologists, and to people interested generally in the documentation of obscure and elusive creatures. Many animals hardly ever…
December 14, 2010
I've just spent a few days at the Institut royal des Sciences naturelles de Belgique in Brussels, for theropod-related reasons. A great museum, with tons of excellent material on display. I just want to briefly report one interesting discovery here: I was surprised and delighted to find that the…
December 10, 2010
No time for anything new (err, just a tad busy at the moment), so here's something else from the Tet Zoo archives. This article originally appeared on ver 1 in April 2006 and appears here in slightly modified form. In previous articles we've looked at the ability of large eagles - the Golden…
December 7, 2010
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…
December 6, 2010
Back to the series on pouches, pockets and sacs (for previous articles see links below). The previous article finished by looking at the guttural pouches present in the Mongolian gazelle Procapra gutturosa. This links us nicely to the select group of mammals - perissodactyls, hyraxes, bats and…
December 3, 2010
Aww, look at that cute little face, those piggy little, opaque eyes, that wrinkled skin. I just know that you want a little refresher on giant salamanders, so - accompanied with new photos taken at the SMNK in Karlsruhe (by Markus Bühler; thanks) - here's a substantially augmented chunk of text…
November 29, 2010
When you discover something new on the internet, you usually find - minutes or hours later - that everyone else already knows about it, and you're just late to the party. And so it is here. But what the hell. Petya Cosmos recently alerted me to this hilarious, and interesting, video. The drama, the…