tetrapodzoology

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Darren Naish

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September 20, 2010
I said I wouldn't do any conferences this year. But I lied, and have recently returned from the 58th Symposium on Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy (SVPCA), this year held once again in Cambridge, UK. Compared to the enormous, sprawling SVP (= Society of Vertebrate Paleontology)…
September 13, 2010
Regular readers will know that I like covering obscure animals... with luck, really obscure animals. The problem with such animals is that nice images hardly ever - sometimes never - exist. When they do exist, they're protected by copyright and are unavailable for use on a blog. I'm therefore…
September 9, 2010
The last few weeks have been pretty exciting for people interested in theropod dinosaurs.... but then, you could say this about most weeks: new theropods are constantly being published. Last week saw the publication of the weird, functionally two-fingered, short-footed maniraptoran Balaur bondoc…
September 6, 2010
I hope everyone has been enjoying my write-ups of Inside Nature's Giants (ING), series 2 (for comments on episode 1 go here, and for thoughts on episode 2 go here). Time to look at ep 3: the big cat one. Given that big cats are more popular (among the general populace) than are either sharks or…
September 3, 2010
Episode 2 of series 2 of Inside Nature's Giants was devoted to pythons (for an article reviewing ep 1, go here). Specifically, to Burmese pythons Python molurus. And, quite right too. Snakes are among the weirdest and most phenomenally modified of tetrapods: in contrast to we boring tetrapodal…
September 1, 2010
Earlier this year (in June), Channel 4 television here in the UK broadcast series 2 of Inside Nature's Giants (ING from hereon... titled Raw Anatomy in the US, you poor, poor people). You may have heard it here first. Hopefully you're familiar with ING series 1 - it looked at the anatomy of…
August 30, 2010
There's no denying that Physeter macrocephalus - the Sperm whale or Great sperm whale - is a very special, very weird mammal, and (as yet) I haven't done it justice at Tet Zoo. That will be rectified in time, honest (I've been keen for years to write about the suction-feeding, and about the…
August 27, 2010
Once more, we return to those wonderful, phenomenally successful, charismatic beasts.... the toads. As you'll know if you've read the previous articles in the toads series, it seems that most basal divergences within crown-Bufonidae happened in South America. So far as we can tell right now, crown…
August 25, 2010
While on holiday in Wales recently, we visited Cardiff Castle. Located within the grounds is the Victorian House, extensively transformed between the late 1860s and 1930s by William Burgess under John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute. I was quite surprised to find carved platypuses,…
August 23, 2010
In the previous Matamata article I discussed the very scary skull and hyoid anatomy of this singular South American turtle. The 'ugly' look of the Matamata is well known, but hopefully you now know that the Matamata should also be famous for its large size, for its massively thick, long neck, for…
August 18, 2010
Photos purported to show 'mystery animals' are always great fun. One of the most perplexing and curious of the lot was taken on a box Brownie camera near Goroke, western Victoria, Australia, in 1964. I'm referring, of course, to Rilla Martin's photo of a strange, striped, running mammal. This…
August 12, 2010
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…
August 9, 2010
Lest we forget, one of my aims for 2009-2010 is TO GET THROUGH ALL THE TOADS OF THE WORLD. I don't mean every single species (because there... like, over 540 of them), but all the 'genera' at least. If you need any of the background to this grand/crazy scheme, be sure to check out the links below…
August 6, 2010
A challenge for you (albeit another easy one): what species, and what activity, do these photos represent? I'll give you a few clues... On second thoughts, I won't. Well, all I'll say is that the photos were taken in the New Forest in southern England and show one of the region's most famous birds…
August 4, 2010
After I'd finished writing about the new Madagascan mongoose, I thought it only right to add material to the end of the article about some of the other new discoveries made in the world of mammalogy. But, as happens on so many occasions, this made the article over-long and in the end I decided to…
August 2, 2010
The fact that new, modern-day mammal species are discovered on a fairly regular basis should most definitely not be a surprise to the average Tet Zoo reader. These are not all 'cryptic species' distinguishable only on the basis of DNA: many are morphologically distinctive, honest-to-goodness new…
July 30, 2010
Welcome to another article on the Matamata Chelus fimbriatus. Yay! In the previous episode we looked briefly at the Matamata's long, thick neck and on a few aspects of Matamata evolution (a brief introduction to what the Matamata is, and where it lives, can be found here) [in the composite image…
July 29, 2010
Another book with my name on it has just appeared. Again it's a kid's book: Dorling Kindersley's Know It All (Baines 2010) - a fantastically well illustrated, fact-packed encylopedia of everything science (and the successor to the highly successful 2009 Ask Me Anything). It's a multi-authored book…
July 26, 2010
Some weeks ago I wrote a bit about the Matamata Chelus fimbriatus: a weird, flat-headed South American pleurodiran turtle. It's one of the strangest creatures tetrapods on the planet, and there's so much to say about it that the previous article ended up being nothing more than the briefest of…
July 25, 2010
Like it says. One day all will be revealed. Not yet. Thanks to Tim Morris :)
July 23, 2010
Regular readers will, hopefully, have shared my surprise on learning - firstly - that oystercatchers are sometimes 'captured' and killed by bivalves, and - secondly - that someone was clever enough to photograph such an occurrence and publish it (Baldwin 1946). Prior to seeing Baldwin's paper, I…
July 20, 2010
I said in the previous pronghorn article that the modern pronghorn - Antilocapra americana - is but the tip of the phylogenetic iceberg, if you will; the only surviving member of a group that was previously far more diverse [the adjacent photo (from wikipedia) shows Ramoceros osborni. Yes, it…
July 19, 2010
The Pronghorn or Pronghorn antelope* Antilocapra americana is a strikingly unique artiodactyl, endemic to western North America. Historically, it ranged from southern Manitoba and Washington in the north to northern Mexico in the south, and to western Iowa in the east. Between 40 and 50 million…
July 18, 2010
Thanks to everyone who had a go at guessing the identity of the mystery stuffed carnivoran. I am pleased, I suppose, to say that NOBODY GOT IT RIGHT, but some of you did come close. First of all, given that I specifically referred to the animal as a carnivoran (that is, a member of the placental…
July 17, 2010
Test your skills and identify this carnivoran (sorry the image isn't larger: this is all I got). It's not meant to be particularly easy, so good luck. The person who supplied the image is not allowed to play, and it would be appreciated if another individual who has used the same image on his own…
July 16, 2010
I just received my copies of Dinosaurs Life Size, a children's book published by Barron's Educational in the USA and by New Burlington Books in the UK (Naish 2010). You can get it from amazon here (here from amazon.co.uk). You might wonder why I'm advertising a children's book when I could be…
July 14, 2010
A little while back we looked at the claws, bony knobs and other structures present on the hands of certain palaeognaths, waterfowl and other birds. Time to look at more of this sort of stuff - I kind of got distracted by lapwing taxonomy, so this is all going on for a bit longer than expected,…
July 11, 2010
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…
July 10, 2010
Another one from the annals of weird deaths. Believe it or don't, wading birds sometimes get their toes or bill-tips caught in bivalve shells, they remain trapped, and they then drown when the tide comes in. Here is rare photographic evidence of this behaviour... The bird is an adult American…
July 8, 2010
In the previous article I discussed the outside section of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition's pterosaur display (hosted at Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank). The exhibition (which finished on July 4th, sorry) incorporated three flying, life-sized azhdarchids - suspended from…