tetrapodzoology

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Darren Naish

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May 9, 2010
Another one. Identify the creatures (all from the Barremian Wessex Formation of the Isle of Wight, England) - possibly more difficult this time! Remember that some of the animals are in 'historic guise', so are portrayed very much inaccurately. And no cheating, as labelled versions of this picture…
May 8, 2010
When I was a kid I drew lots of dinosaurs. My efforts weren't too bad, but of course I got a lot wrong (by modern standards) and - like so many dinosaur fan-boys and girls growing up in the 80s and 90s - I became a very good copier of Greg Paul. Here's a Late Cretaceous Mongolian scene I drew once…
May 5, 2010
Back to gekkotans: time to look at digits. Geckos are well known for the ability of many species to cling to vertical surfaces, and even to ceilings. In fact, this is usually the one thing about geckos that everyone knows. The powers of gecko adhesion are such that geckos can support their entire…
May 3, 2010
It's official: there's a new, living species of African rhino, bringing the recognised number of living rhino species to six. But before you get too excited I should point out that the taxon concerned is not exactly new. It was first named in 1908 and has previously been regarded (without…
May 2, 2010
Until recently the Mascarenes were home to an endemic radiation of giant tortoises, the Cylindraspis species. These were entirely separate from the better known, more 'typical' Mascarene giant tortoises grouped together in Dipsochelys or Aldabrachelys (Austin & Arnold 2001). Easily the most…
April 30, 2010
Can you identify this peculiar odontocete? As always, dead easy. IF you know the answer. Thanks to Markus Bühler for the image. Oh, and while I'm here... On a completely different topic... I was once told that numerous birds die while flying close to or over offshore oil platforms [adjacent pic…
April 28, 2010
More on gekkotans, and this time were going to look at various details of gekkotan anatomy. Gekkotans are, being lizards, lizard-shaped (though with the near-limbless pygopodids being snake-like). But what makes them really special is that certain parts of their bodies - in particular, their hands…
April 26, 2010
I really like sloths, but one of their recently discovered habits might make me like them a little bit less... As recently reported by Eckhard Heymann and colleagues, Linnaeus's two-toed sloths Choloepus didactylus at the Estación Biológica Quebrada Blanco in north-eastern Peru have developed…
April 22, 2010
Now that the main gekkotan groups have been introduced, it's time to get down to some of the details. We begin with stuff on lifestyle and behaviour... [gekkotan motley below - mostly assembled from wikipedia - features (top, left to right) Aeluroscalabotes felinus, Pachydactylus bibronii,…
April 21, 2010
As you may know, Tet Zoo has been going for four years now. Despite this, there are still entire tetrapod clades - consisting of hundreds or even thousands of species - that have scarcely been mentioned here, if at all. Lately, I've been feeling 'gecko guilt'. Yes, I can barely believe that the…
April 19, 2010
Earlier this year the awesome new ornithocheiroid pterosaur Zhenyuanopterus longirostris Lü, 2010 was described from the Yixian Formation of Liaoning Province, China. It has pretty incredible teeth, as well as a very interesting premaxillary crest... And it has a lot of teeth: 86 in total in the…
April 17, 2010
This weekend (17th-18th April 2010), the 9th European Symposium of Cryptozoology is being held at Engreux in the south of Belgium. I meant to attend and give a talk, but had to cancel for financial reasons. And it's just as well that I did, given that virtually all flights from out of the UK have…
April 15, 2010
Yet another entry from the fieldguide (though substantially updated and enlarged)... What might be one of the strangest Cretaceous birds was described in 2004. I refer of course to Aberratiodontus wui of the Jiufotang Formation of Liaoning Province, China. Named for a near-complete specimen,…
April 13, 2010
Again, more recycled text from the Mesozoic bird section of the fieldguide... Alexornis antecedens from the Upper Cretaceous (?Campanian) La Bocana Roja Formation of Mexico was first described in 1976; its remains were discovered in 1971 by H. J. Garbani and J. Loewe. The bones they found -…
April 12, 2010
When there's no time for anything else, at least I can recycle text from the aborted field-guide (see bottom for previous excerpts). Hmm, I really should get that published. Anyway... Protopteryx fengningensis was named in 2000 for two specimens discovered in the Yixian Formation of Fengning…
April 9, 2010
Readers with good memories will recall both that January 21st 2010 was Tet Zoo's fourth birthday, and that I wrote about 'four years of operation' on that day. I had more to say about the subject in 2009, a year of Tet Zooery. Buuut... then things went downhill, and I had to take that break, and…
April 7, 2010
I was thrilled and delighted to encounter this amazing beast at a recent meeting. It's another of those creatures that you might know well from the literature, but (you assume) are unlikely to ever see in the flesh. Yet here it is... Your challenge: tell us all what it is. As usual, this is dead…
April 6, 2010
Over the weekend I and a bunch of friends and colleagues (representing the Southampton Natural History Society) went to Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, in search of Great bustards Otis tarda. The Great bustard (one of 26 or so bustard species found throughout the Old World and Australasia) is a…
March 31, 2010
If anything should be clear from the range of creatures that I write about at Tet Zoo - think caecilians, borhyaenoids, imaginary giant owls and rhynchosaurs - it's that there's an almost infinite amount of technical information on obscure creatures 'locked away' in the technical literature. Among…
March 30, 2010
The Madagascan cuckoo-roller or Courol* Leptosomus discolor is a distinctive, large-headed, short-legged predatory bird that inhabits the forests of Madagascar and the Comores [adjacent photo of male Courol taken at Vakona in Madagascar; image courtesy of Mary Blanchard]. It's superficially…
March 28, 2010
I like to think that I've done my bit for babirusa promotion. Hopefully you agree. And babirusas could do with lots of promotion - not only are they fascinating and bizarre, they're globally endangered and in real need of protection (if you want to know more, check out Babirusa.org). I'm pleased…
March 25, 2010
Tyrant dinosaurs - properly called tyrannosauroids - are most usually associated with the Late Cretaceous of North America. Of course, if you know anything about dinosaurs you'll also know that many tyrants were Asian. So, the most familiar tyrants - the big, short-armed kinds like Tyrannosaurus,…
March 23, 2010
Ducks - like the Mallards Anas platyrhynchos shown here - lead fairly violent sex lives. As I said in a previous article... [A]s you'll know if you've spent any time watching ducks, 'forced extra-pair copulations' are very common in ducks. The Mallard Anas platyrhynchos is the best (or should that…
March 22, 2010
A lot of zoos have very neat murals and other works of art. Over the weekend we visited Marwell here in Hampshire: it's our 'local' zoo and we go there a lot. I really like the 'march of the penguins' feature they have on the outside of the penguin pool. Here's Will, looking at each penguin species…
March 19, 2010
Captive pheasants Phasianus colchicus frequently practise cannibalism: this isn't necessarily as gruesome as it sounds, but mostly consists of repetitive pecking or picking that opens wounds or results in the removal of toes. In chicks, toe and beak picking are common, while vent, wing and head…
March 17, 2010
As some of you might know, all of my 'free' time last month was eaten up by a major project (a book chapter) that had a very tight deadline. This meant no time whatsoever for such stuff as blog-writing, hence the (mostly) recycled babirusa stuff. That project is now (mostly!) complete, but I'm…
March 13, 2010
It turns out that Martinus van Tee of Caricature a day (and of martinus van tee illustration) is a big fan of Tet Zoo, and obviously of babirusas too. Yes, here's me, Flintstone-style, riding a familiar artiodactyl. Have I written about babirusas on Tet Zoo? - - I can't remember. Thanks indeed…
March 11, 2010
Waterfowl (or wildfowl, or anseriforms, or ducks, geese, swans and kin) are awesome. Last year saw the publication of a particularly freakish, recently extinct member of the group that's been known to some of us for a while: the surreal Hawaiian duck Talpanas lippa Olson & James, 2009 from…
March 9, 2010
Even in this day and age - when anyone who's anyone has a huge personal pdf archive - 'dead tree' libraries are still used by many (or most?) of us. Partly because I've never worked on a computer that can do more than three things at once, partly because I spend 90% of my waking life staring at…
March 8, 2010
Yeah, things are still tough here at Tet Zoo Towers, and the time needed for blog-writing has yet to materialise. But the end is in sight, and things will be back to normal within the next few weeks. I hope. If you've been reading the series of babirusa articles - and, hey, who hasn't? - you'll…