tetrapodzoology

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Darren Naish

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July 7, 2010
Regular readers of Tet Zoo will have seen the little clues given here and there to a big, infinitely cool project that's been months and months in the making (here's the first big hint, from August 2009). For some time now my colleagues Dave Martill, Bob Loveridge, Mark Witton and others at the…
July 1, 2010
Darren is away. Back soon. Here are sneak-peeks... The amazing freaky beast that's getting all the attention, that everyone gawps at in amazement (drumroll)... ... stands at centre-left in a white shirt. Yay, it's Witton's World of Pterosaurs. Photo above stolen from Benjamin Moon. Dave Martill…
June 30, 2010
All too few people seem to realise that birds have hands*; it's just that these parts of the body are - normally - mostly obscured from view by the feathers. While the main role of the bird hand is to support remiges (the big wing feathers), less well known is that many birds possess claws, spurs…
June 27, 2010
Good, non-technical books on anatomy are rare; good, non-technical books on avian anatomy are just about non-existent. Gary Kaiser's The Inner Bird: Anatomy and Evolution stands out as one of a kind - it is not brand-new (having been published in 2007), but still has yet to be widely recognised as…
June 26, 2010
This could be an opportunity to say something really smart and interesting, or it could be an excuse for silliness. I leave you, my wise readers, to decide... UPDATE: for those struggling to interpret the sloths, the image below should help. A shot of the sloths just a few moments later is shown…
June 24, 2010
Over the weekend my family and I visited Amazon World Zoo Park on the Isle of Wight. I saw tons of new stuff and had a great time, but what might have been my favourite creature is one that would have been all but ignored by the vast majority of visitors. I'm talking about the Matamata Chelus…
June 20, 2010
More waterfowl weirdness... Most waterfowl can walk fine on land, and the majority of species are pretty agile in terms of their terrestrial abilities. But some species are so specialised for life on water, and have their legs placed so far back on their bodies, that any terrestrial abilities are…
June 20, 2010
Another waterfowl fact. This one is gonna be brief. In the previous article we looked at the wing spurs of Plectropterus. They're pretty cool, but they're far from unique, and even more incredible are the much larger, dagger-like spikes seen in screamers... Screamers (Anhimidae) are a small group…
June 18, 2010
Yesterday we looked briefly at goose digestion. Pretty incredible stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. Hey: wouldn't it be weird if some waterfowl were poisonous? Yeah, wouldn't it. Well... guess what? One of the most dangerous birds in the world - I'm not kidding here - is the African spur-winged goose…
June 18, 2010
I've just been writing about waterfowl for the day job. Which is fine, because waterfowl are among my favourite animals (as if that isn't obvious from Tet Zoo... what, you mean it isn't obvious?). Entirely because they're on my mind at the moment, here is the first of several, entirely random…
June 17, 2010
I said in the freaky giraffoid Barosaurus article that I had one last thing to say on the 'demonic Quetzalcoatlus' meme. It's pretty incredible. Yes, world, I give you: an actual skeleton of a real 'demonic Quetzalcoatlus'. Well, a published drawing of one, anyway... Just like the animals depicted…
June 15, 2010
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 saving…
June 14, 2010
Lately I've become quite fond of those really weird depictions of fossil animals that were utterly, utterly wrong, yet somehow managed to persist in the literature for decades. Last time round, we saw how the meme of the 'demonic Quetzalcoatlus' passed from artist to artist, and had its genesis in…
June 13, 2010
Here's a very simplified 'consensus cladogram' for Artiodactyla: hey, just like it says in the title. Obviously, it only features living taxa. The reference cited on the side (it's a slide from a talk about hoofed mammal evolution) is... Price, S. A., Bininda-Emonds, O. R. P. & Gittleman, J. L…
June 10, 2010
Here's a pretty weird looking photo; it comes courtesy of Markus Bühler (of Bestiarium) and was taken at Berlin Zoo. I don't think I'm spoiling the surprise by saying that it shows a Hippopotamus amphibius.... ... albeit a peculiar individual who seems to suffer from prolapsed tissue around the…
June 7, 2010
In the previous few gekkotan articles we looked at the seriously weird and highly distinctive leaf-tailed geckos of Madagascar. There's another group of especially unusual, highly notable gekkonid gekkotans I want to write about: the flying, gliding or parachute geckos (Ptychozoon) of south-east…
June 4, 2010
I don't want to get into the habit of advertising TV shows, but in this case I can make a definite exception. Thanks to the people at Windfall for sending what's known in the business as a TX card. For the Tet Zoo articles on series 1, see... Inside Nature's Giants: a major television event…
June 1, 2010
One of the most significant papers ever published in the annals of science appeared recently; it deals, for the first time ever, with one of the biggest scientific questions ever faced by the scientific community, and uses cutting-edge technology and awesome powers of deductive reasoning and…
May 31, 2010
If you're a regular reader you'll have seen the recent article on those freaky, terrifying versions of the azhdarchid pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus from the 1970s and 80s. We looked at Guy Michel's version from 1979 and Richard Orr's spectacularly colourful rendition from 1984. My friend Paul Glynn…
May 30, 2010
Yet another 'sea monster carcass' was brought to my attention recently (thanks Paul), and in the interests of tradition and of bringing it to a wider audience I thought I should include it here (I'm very late to the party: Cryptomundo discussed the case when it broke three years ago). Dubbed the '…
May 27, 2010
Yet again, a waterlogged, partially decomposed mammal carcass has become "an internet sensation" (to quote the popular media), and yet again people are saying it might be a new 'Montauk monster', or a Chupacabras, or a relative of Nessie, or Ogopogo, or a baby sasquatch, or some other sort of…
May 25, 2010
By now, it's reasonably well known to interested people what azhdarchid pterosaurs looked like when alive. The answer: sort of like a cross between a giraffe and a stork, though with all of this being over-ridden by uniquely pterosaurian weirdness; membranous wings supported by giant fingers, a…
May 24, 2010
Time to press on once more with gekkotan lizards, and again with yet more on the remarkable leaf-tailed geckos (Uroplatus) of Madagascar. So far, we've been introduced to these lizards and have also looked at their anatomical pecularities and on a little bit of their history within the…
May 22, 2010
I covered babirusas recently; you might have noticed. As you'll know if you read those articles, Meijaard & Groves (2002a, b) argued a few years ago that Babyrousa babyrussa of tradition should actually be split up into several phylogenetic species. Coincidentally, I published an article on…
May 19, 2010
So, you've had an introduction to the incredible leaf-tailed geckos (Uroplatus). In view of their bizarre appearance, it's perhaps not so surprising that leaf-tailed geckos have commanded attention for a long time and there's a large historical literature on these animals (see Bauer & Russell…
May 18, 2010
Before I start, allow me to announce that Tet Zoo merchandise is now available! So far, I've only used the Tet Zoo logo for these products, but I might produce additional designs in time. Anyway... welcome to another article in the Tet Zoo gekkotan series. I really want to get through to the end…
May 16, 2010
I came up with the idea recently of inventing a Tet Zoo logo, and a few friends and regular readers said that this was a good idea. Soooo.... I decided to incorporate just three creatures (any more would be too crowded), and the ones I chose can be regarded as Tet Zoo superstars or regulars: a…
May 14, 2010
A few days ago I visited my friends at the Centre for Fortean Zoology (for non-Tet Zoo-related reasons), and I particularly enjoyed looking at their amphiumas. Purely because I want to share the photos I took - well, and because amphiumas are weird, little known and really, really neat - I thought…
May 11, 2010
It's just too good not to mention. Yesterday I re-posted an old article about manatee dispersal across the Atlantic. And on the same day came news that a living Grey whale Eschrichtius robustus has been seen off Herzliya Marina, Israel, meaning that at least one living, breathing Grey whale is…
May 10, 2010
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... There are three extant manatee species*: Trichechus inunguis of the Amazon…