Chameleons* are among the most distinctive and charismatic of lizards, and a long list of anatomical features makes them unusual relative to other members of the group. Most of the sorts of things I have in mind (those grasping hands and feet, the protrusible tongue and so on) are well known. Less familiar is that chameleons are not all branch-climbing specialists with prehensile tails: the group also includes a substantial number of terrestrial, leaf- and twig-mimicking taxa, many of which are tiny.
Neither stream-dwelling nor crab-eating are common behavior in lizards. Madagascar is home to a morphologically and behaviorally diverse group of skinks, and a few of those are confirmed stream-dwellers. Here I discuss a case in which biologist Asia Murphy has succeeded in photographing—perhaps for the first time—one of these stream-dwelling skinks eating crabs...
Some days ago (January 21st 2016), Tet Zoo reached its 10th birthday. You might have heard this already, sorry for going on about it. Here, in the last of a whole series of birthday-themed articles, I look back at the ups and downs of ten years of blogging, consider the impact of Tet Zoo – if there is such a thing – and present musings on what has been, what is, and what will be. Why the adjacent photo of a Blackbird Turdus merula? Because, as usual, why not.
Welcome to the third of the Tet Zoo 10th-birthday articles. Yes, I’m doing a whole month of looking back at 10 years of blogging (part 1 here, part 2 here). In the previous articles we looked back at the various Tet Zoo–relevant things that happened during 2015. This time round we review subject coverage on the blog, an interesting (and frustrating) topic that I always feel warrants annual review. Much of this will make sense—or be somewhat familiar—if you’re a regular reader, or at least if you stop in at Tet Zoo on occasion
Time for the second part of my TetZoo-centric look back at 2015. Here, we look at some All Yesterdays–themed spinoff, conference season, sea monsters, TetZooCon and assorted other things. Part 1 of the 2015 review is here. As before, go away now if you think the gratuitous introspection and self-congratulation will offend you. Last warning. Oh, and... why bantams and bustard-based bitters? Well, because why not?
Hello, Happy New Year, and welcome to the first Tet Zoo post of 2016. Regular readers will know that January is the month in which I review the previous year’s adventures, and I save these review events to January 21—this being Tet Zoo’s birthday…or anniversary…or blogoversary, or whatever. But January 21, 2016, is an extra-special birthday for Tet Zoo. Why? WHY? Because Tet Zoo is 10 YEARS OLD this month, that’s why
It's a favorite theme of evolution deniers even though this ridiculous notion has been debunked a million times—but let's try once more
The Indian wild pig looks about ‘different enough’ from other wild pigs that it was originally (in 1839) described as a distinct species, but no more
They superficially resemble squirrels—but they aren't squirrels, either
Hippos are represented today by just two species: the large, strongly amphibious Hippopotamus amphibius and the smaller, more terrestrial Pygmy hippo Hexaprotodon liberiensis*. As usual, the fossil record reveals a far greater number of species that were distributed over a far larger area than that associated with hippos today. In this article I aim to give a brief, succinct overview of hippo history.
On Saturday 14th November 2015, a crowd of friends, associates, notable persons and Tet Zoo readers gathered at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes, London, to attend the second-ever TetZooCon, organised by TetZoopodcats/Tetrapodcats Naish and Conway. A whole day devoted to talks, events and socialising relevant to the TetZooniverse. And, you know, it went pretty well. We were at full attendance with a crowd of about 70. Bad weather threatened to make the trek to the venue unpleasant and awkward – especially when you have about 50 cardboard boxes and poster tubes to carry – but things turned out not so bad after all. Thanks to everyone who made it what it was.
I’m a huge fan of corvids. I watch and photograph them at every opportunity, and I can easily imagine a life wholly dedicated to, if not obsessed with, these charismatic, amazing, constantly fascinating birds. My experience with the vast majority of corvids (there are about 120 living species) is limited, but the good news is that there’s a nice diversity of these birds to know and love even here in the maritime fringes of north-western Europe.
Fossil hominins, weird extinct lizards and archaic turtles are all very nice but, let’s be honest: when we talk about fossil tetrapods, the things we talk about the most are archosaurs... dinosaurs and their ilk in particular. As I’ve said on so many previous occasions, dinosaurs are always in the news, and while much of the stuff that gets classed as ‘newsy’ seems oh-so-familiar to those of us who attend the conferences and keep tabs on the technical literature, I know that isn’t the case for the Tet Zoo readership as a whole. That disclaimer out of the way, let’s look at some of the dinosaur-themed things that have lately been the topic of our attention.
In 1908, amateur geologist and solicitor Charles Dawson claimed the discovery of a new and exciting fossil that, so it was thought, shed substantial light on the ancestry of humans. Dubbed Piltdown man, and technically named Eoanthropus dawsoni, it was (... spoiler...) eventually shown to be a hoax – one of the most nefarious, infamous and successful scientific hoaxes of all time.You know all of this already. In the previous article we looked at the fact that Piltdown man never was accepted with open arms by the scientific community as a whole. On the contrary, experts in the U.K, U.S. and continental Europe all expressed considerable doubt about the homogeneity of the material. But there are a great many stories attached to the Piltdown man arc, and this time I’m going to cover another one
Over the past several years, I and colleagues have aimed to improve our knowledge of the Late Cretaceous fauna of the Haţeg Island, a landmass that corresponds to modern-day Romania. This work is led by the Transylvanian Museum Society’s Mátyás Vremir and the University of Bucharest’s Zoltán Csiki-Sava and involves researchers based in the UK and USA as well as Romania. We’ve found a lot of new stuff in the field, much of it at localities discovered within recent years by Mátyás. Our work has involved azhdarchid pterosaurs (Vremir et al. 2013, 2015), archaic birds and related theropods (Dyke et al. 2012, Cau et al. 2015), turtles (Dyke et al. 2015), and there are in-prep projects on multituberculate mammals, crocodyliforms and lizards.
I’ve just learnt that today is World Rhino Day. This always happens: I learn about these things on the day and am completely unaware of them beforehand. I apologise if all this shows is that I’m badly organised and not paying enough attention to what’s being covered on the zoological newswires. Anyway...
A few short weeks ago the.... umm... fifth (I think) international pterosaur meeting was held. It was hosted by my alma mater the University of Portsmouth, was run by Dave Martill, Richard Hing and colleagues, and was attended by a great crowd of international pterosaur workers. In previous years I’ve written about at least two pterosaur-themed meetings (see links below), and I aim here to discuss just a few of the subjects covered at this latest meeting.
Diploglossines – popularly called galliwasps – are an extant group of anguid lizards that inhabit South and Central America as well as the Antilles (Anguidae is the group that includes alligator lizards, slow-worms, glass lizards and kin). Most galliwasps are robust-bodied lizards with normally proportioned, complete limbs. A reduced digit count and reduced limb size is, however, present in the obscure taxa Ophiodes, Sauresia and Wetmorena. The vast majority of species are included within Celestus (with about 30 species) and Diploglossus (with about 17 species).
I think gulls are great, and I’m especially fond of the so-called white-headed gulls: the group of species that includes the familiar Herring gull Larus argentatus, the black-backed gulls, and a list of similar species that occur worldwide.
I must have said that one of my aims here at Tet Zoo is to write about obscure amphibian species that rarely get covered elsewhere. The main thing stopping or slowing this plan concerns the availability of images – good, available pictures showing the species concerned are often not availability. Anyway, through the good graces of Jonathan Kolby, I here present an image of the extremely rare tropical American plethodontid salamander Nototriton brodiei of Guatemala and Honduras. The animal is known from less than ten specimens.