tetrapodzoology

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Darren Naish

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February 28, 2010
In the previous article we looked at the proposal that the various babirusa taxa - long regarded as subspecies - deserve to be raised to species rank. The argument goes that the taxa concerned are (1) morphologically diagnosable, (2) 'as distinct' as are other taxa traditionally regarded as…
February 22, 2010
Welcome to yet another article in the (outstandingly successful, yet recycled from ver 1) series on babirusas. Observant readers will have noticed that, strangely, I've refrained thus far from using a scientific binomial for babirusas, plus I've consistently (I think) referred to them in the…
February 20, 2010
The bipedal 'boxing' behaviour of babirusas is odd, but arguably odder is a unique sort of 'ploughing' behaviour they've recently been shown to practise. On being presented with an area of soft sand, captive babirusas (mostly males) have been noted to kneel down and push their head and chest…
February 18, 2010
In the previous articles we looked at the distribution and phylogenetic position of babirusas, and also at a bit of their behaviour, biology and morphology. While babirusas are famous for the bizarre upper canines that emerge from the dorsal surface of the snout in males, the function of these…
February 17, 2010
Another article on babirusas - yaay! Like many (but not all) pigs, babirusas are omnivorous, and are said to eat invertebrates whenever they find them. They have also been reported to eat fish on occasion, to catch small mammals, and even to catch and eat the juveniles of other babirusas (Leus…
February 15, 2010
More on babirusas! Go here for part I. While babirusas look pig-like and are classified as part of Suidae, they're distinctive and unusual [image above from wikipedia]. Combining rather slender legs with a barrel-shaped body, they can exceed 1 m in length and have a shoulder height of 65-80 cm.…
February 14, 2010
In the interests of recycling old material from Tet Zoo ver 1, I present... yes, a whole series of articles devoted to one of the most unusual and remarkable of hoofed mammals. Come on, we all love babirusas. If you've been with Tet Zoo from the beginning, none of what's to follow will be new […
February 12, 2010
Well, I really was very much enthused, inspired and uplifted by the many kind and supportive comments so many of you added to the previous article. Thank you all. So enthused, in fact, that I couldn't help myself, and took time out of lunch breaks and so on to produce 'ticking over' material for…
February 9, 2010
Every now and then, financial woes and other problems mean that I go through a major period of apathy and self-deprecation. And, after four years of very successful operation, I have seriously been considering calling it quits on Tetrapod Zoology. Extreme, heartfelt thanks to the friends and…
January 27, 2010
I have to take a break. I may be gone for some time... I may not. Here are some cool photos.
January 23, 2010
So, if you read the previous article, you'll know that we're here because Tet Zoo was four years old on January 21st. In that article, I got as far as discussing blog-relevant events that happened up to the end of May or so. Time to crack on... During June I had a particularly bizarre job - I did…
January 21, 2010
Today is January 21st which means, believe it or don't, that it's Tet Zoo's birthday, the 4th no less. Holy crap... have I really been blogging for four years? Yikes, and there is still so much to do, so little ground I've covered. This is despite more than 635 (count 'em) Tet Zoo articles here on…
January 18, 2010
Like many people interested in cryptozoology (the study of animals - or alleged animals - known only from anectodal evidence), I'm of the opinion that the Australian Yowie is one of the most problematic of mystery beasts. It is, in fact, so ridiculous and inconvenient that it's difficult to take…
January 16, 2010
If you're a long-time Tet Zoo reader you might remember the article about giant Asian softshell turtles from November 2007. That article - which mostly focused on the several Chitra species - was colourfully titled 'The goat-eating hot water bottle turtles'. As you may recall, the 'goat-eating'…
January 14, 2010
Tone and I recently went to see Avatar. I've been reading up on the movie for months and was really looking forward to seeing it. I mostly liked it, though did think it was a bit clichéd and predictable. But I'm not here to talk about storylines and plot devices... you want to know about the…
January 12, 2010
Can you identify this South American snake? The photo comes courtesy of Paul Nicholas, who spotted the snake (which was about 1 m long) while it was crossing a river below the Great Falls and King George Falls in the (mostly unexplored) upper Essequibo region of Guyana. The strange-looking lumps…
January 10, 2010
Today see the launch of an outstanding new website devoted entirely to pterosaurs, the flying reptiles of the Mesozoic. What makes the site different from many specialist sources on the internet is that it was created, written and designed by specialists in the field. As such, it should prove an…
January 8, 2010
A stocky, medium-sized (up to 2 m long) and poorly known elapid with notably small eyes, Micropechis ikaheka - the Small-eyed or Ikaheka snake - is the only recognised member of its genus*. It's unique to New Guinea and some of the surrounding islands [adjacent image from Warrell et al. (1996)]. '…
January 6, 2010
By popular demand... it's the second part of the old, old, old (ver 1) article I wrote in 2006 on the obscure and poorly known mega-sauropod Amphicoelias fragillimus. Be sure to read part I first. So, A. fragillimus was described in 1878 on the basis of an incomplete but enormous dorsal vertebra…
January 4, 2010
South America has a diverse and well-studied toad fauna. The continent's toads include some decidedly untoad-like taxa, such as the brightly coloured stubfoot toads or harlequin frogs. These remarkable little animals are superficially similar to the better known poison-dart frogs. What makes South…
January 2, 2010
Davide Bonadonna kindly sent on these pictures of a Diplodocus model he produced (with assistance provided by Simone Maganuco) during Summer 2009 for the Capellini Museum in Bologna. 2009 was the centenary year for the installation of the museum's Diplodocus carnegii replica skeleton: as I'm sure…
December 31, 2009
We've had reason now and again to mention the unusual ape photographed at Yaounde Zoo (in Cameroon) a few times. I finally got round to digging out and scanning the only photo of the animal I've seen: it was taken by Peter Jenkins and Liza Gadsby and first appeared in the November 1996 issue of the…
December 28, 2009
Hope you had a good Christmas - I did! Here's an old article from Tet Zoo ver 1, apologies if you recall it from its first airing in 2006. The article is now a bit dated - sorry about that (I've added one or two new bits). Even if you're not an expert on dinosaurs, it's likely that you've heard -…
December 23, 2009
In time-honoured fashion, once more it's time to wish you all best Christmas wishes and share with you my digital 'Christmas card'... though if you're a regular correspondent or one of my Facebook friends you'll already have seen it, sorry... A larger version is available on request. You'll note a…
December 22, 2009
Long-time readers might have noticed that I tend not to cover new dinosaur stories here at Tet Zoo. Partly this is because I like to be novel: I can't help but feel slightly disappointed when the subject I'm blogging about gets covered on a hundred other blogs and news-sites. It's also partly…
December 19, 2009
Welcome to another article in the 'over-enthusiastic swallowing' series. As was the case with the previous article (the one on Mushu the pet bearded dragon), this one doesn't involve the death of the animal(s) concerned. In fact - so far as we can tell - the creature(s) that did the swallowing…
December 17, 2009
You're being interviewed for a TV documentary, and that documentary will focus on your special area of expertise. For the purposes of this article, let's pretend that you're an expert on sauropod dinosaurs. While being interviewed, you're asked about the possible function of a peculiar and…
December 15, 2009
I have to admit that I don't find trace fossils - the vast majority of which are footprints - that interesting. But some trace fossils are very neat and provide excellent information on behaviour and lifestyle. Examples include pterosaur take-off traces, the trackway of the little theropod that…
December 14, 2009
Over the past couple of months I've been reading John MacKinnon's In Search of the Red Ape (Collins, 1974) - one of the first books anyone reads whenever they want to learn about orangutans. The book is stuffed full of anecdotes and other natural history tales about Borneo and Sumatra, and it…
December 11, 2009
More thoughts on the ZSL meeting 'The Secret World of Naked Snakes', held on Monday 7th December. In the previous article I discussed Mark Wilkinson and David Gower's presentations [for relevance of pic used above, read on]. Alexander Kupfer was up next, and provided an excellent overview of…