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Posts Tagged "mammals"

The Artful Amoeba

How the Fleas’ Next of Kin Ended up Living on a Liverwort in Alaska

caurinus_tlagu_zookeys_sikes_and_stockbridge_2013_200

Beware the Giant Paintbrush, Little Insect Way, way down in the southeast corner of Alaska lies Prince of Wales Island, the fourth largest in the United States. At around 2,500 square miles, it’s some 1,000 square miles larger than Long Island (which ranks a paltry 11th).  At the northern end of this sizeable but remote [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

What Does a Marmot Sound Like?

marmot_Jf_200

What happens when squirrels invade the tundra? Well, in one case, they got chubby, fluffy, flappy-tailed, and occasionally kinda cranky, sorta like a hydrophobic alpine beaver. Here in the Rockies, they’re called yellow-bellied marmots. Until recently, I’d rarely seen one and had never heard one call. They seemed to maintain a strict code of silence [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Platypus Threatened by Climate Change

platypus

The thick, waterproof fur that once made the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) a valuable target for trappers may soon present another danger for the unique mammal: Australia could soon end up being too hot for the species to survive. Platypus fur is so warm and watertight that it insulates the semiaquatic animals from virtually all heat [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Mountain bongo faces extinction after more than a century of decline

The world’s largest forest antelope faces almost certain extinction in the wild in as few as 14 years if current population trends continue, according to a statement by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Just 103 critically endangered mountain bongos (Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci) remain in Kenya, the last country where the animals exist in the wild. [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Has an infectious cancer doomed Tasmanian devils to extinction?

Tasmanian Devil Facial Cancer

Are Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) doomed to extinction in the wild? The infectious cancer known as devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) has killed off as much as 90 percent of the world’s Tasmanian devils since it was first observed in 1996 (up from 70 percent when we last wrote about the species nine months ago). [...]

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Extinction Countdown

SEGA and Sonic step in (briefly) to protect endangered hedgehogs

Britain’s beloved hedgehogs are in crisis. Some 50,000 hedgehogs die every year under the wheels of cars and trucks throughout the U.K. That high death rate has had a mighty toll on the cute little creatures: There are now 300,000 fewer hedgehogs in Britain than there were a decade ago. (Other threats to hedgehogs include [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Rare New Zealand pigs to be killed for their semen

Kill a rare animal to help preserve it? That’s the plan in New Zealand, where a team of hunters will soon go out to collect a few critically endangered Arapawa Island boars, a breed that only exists on that tiny island. Their plan is to kill two pigs, then extract their semen for later research. [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Road killed: Australia’s common wombat could soon be uncommon

common wombat

The common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) is, as its name suggests, fairly common in Australia. In fact, the indigenous badgerlike mammal is often considered to be a pest. But widespread species are usually ignored because they are pervasive, and in the case of V. ursinus new research warns that the meter-long marsupials could soon be in [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Endangered Sonoran pronghorn seen as hindering U.S. attempts to shore up its border

pronghorn

Protecting the nearly extinct Sonoran pronghorn in Arizona is making it more difficult to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the U.S., at least according to Fox News. "Environmentalists and governmental stewards have been repeatedly blocking customs and border protection from expanding border technology in their habitat—despite complaints that illegal immigrants are taking advantage of the [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Marmot meltdown averted: Vancouver Island species on the brink of extinction regaining social bonds

Vancouver Island marmot

Biologists in Canada are encouraged that critically endangered Vancouver Island marmots (Marmota vancouverensis) are once again learning how to be marmots—a tough task since the species’s population had crashed so far that the animals almost lost the knowledge of how to exist as a society. In a classic example of what is known as the [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Denial of global warming threat to the American pika means no protection from U.S.

American pika

Despite documented threats posed to the American pika (Ochotona princeps) by global warming, the rapidly disappearing mammalian species will not be protected under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) ruled last week. Almost exactly one year ago, the FWS agreed to assess the health of the pika—a tiny cousin of [...]

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Extinction Countdown

DNA could offer captive-breeding alternative to snow leopard studbook

snow leopard

Captive breeding of endangered snow leopards (Panthera uncia) has relied since 1976 on an international studbook that matches animals at zoos around the world for purposes of keeping the big cats from becoming too inbred. Breeding via studbook, however, is a slow process that does not offer many benefits to an endangered species with small [...]

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Observations

Previously Unknown Mammal Spent Decades Hiding in Plain Sight

picture of the olinguito

As fans of the TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation know, skulls and teeth can provide excellent forensic clues. Yet any taxonomist will tell you that hard-boiled detectives and forensic scientists are far from the only ones to appreciate the investigative powers of craniums and pearly whites. The most recent proof of their taxonomic utility [...]

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Observations

Jurassic Mammal Moves Back Marsupial Divergence

Juramaia sinensis

A newly described pointy-nosed, rat-like animal did not just crawl out of some unsuspecting city’s sewers. Rather, this now-extinct species spent its time scampering among prehistoric trees some 160 million years ago during China’s Jurassic period. Its modern appearance might seem unremarkable, but its advanced anatomical features—both internal and external—are exactly what have drawn the [...]

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Observations

How land mammals evolved to be so massive

Indricotherium

Although today’s awe-inspiritng African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana) might seem a mighty beast, it’s a fraction of the size of ancient mammals that roamed the Earth 37 million to 2.7 million years ago. The Eocene and Oligocene’s Indricotherium measured in at more than five meters tall, and the Miocene and Pleistocene’s Deinotherium likely weighted some [...]

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PsiVid

Mammal March Madness! Learn About Animal Competition in the Wild!

As a young girl, Katie Hinde became quite excited when her dad was preparing to watch the Bengals vs. the Bears on TV. It seems she was expecting this: What an education for the then four year old as she did not see a single tiger OR bear on TV that day and instead saw [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Conservation concern for South America’s remarkable endemic dogs

Bush dog pair; photo by Attis, CC BY-SA 3.0

Last year the Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia volume titled Extinct Life appeared in print. I was asked to cover South American mammals, perhaps because they wanted me to write about borhyaenoids, toxodonts, litopterns, astrapotheres and so on (some of which have been covered on Tet Zoo in the past – I really need to get back [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

A brief history of muskrats

Nice picture of muskrat eating. Photo by Linda Tanner, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Earlier in the year I made a promise that I’d get through more rodents here at Tet Zoo. Rodents, you see, divide people like no other group of tetrapods. Some hate them, others love them, and while they’ve classically been regarded as bread-and-butter staples of discussions about tetrapod evolution and diversity, others bemoan their sameyness [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

The 6-ton Blue whale model at London’s Natural History Museum

As close as you can get to the NHM Blue whale model. Such a thing of great beauty. Photo by Darren Naish.

A series of meetings meant that I found myself in London’s Natural History Museum yesterday, and with my friends and Tet Zoo supporters Dan and Felix Bridel (great t-shirt, Felix) I spent a while gawping at the always fascinating life-sized Blue whale Balaenoptera musculus model that hangs in the Mammal Hall. The Mammal Hall is infinitely [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Humans among the primates

A montage of modern primates. From left to right: human, tarsier, eastern gorilla, bonobo, orangutan, crested gibbon, capuchin, macaque, lemur. Image by Darren Naish.

It is not in the least bit controversial to picture humans* within the context of the placental mammal group that we belong to, the primates. Nor is it unusual for primatologists, anthropologists or biologists of other sorts to compare the anatomy, social or sexual behaviour, lifestyles or cognitive abilities of humans with those of other [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Choeropotamids — better known than you thought, perhaps

Anthracobundon model by xxx; image by DagdaMor, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Let’s face it, there’s an extraordinary number of fairly obscure Paleogene artiodactyl groups that are only familiar if you’re a specialist. I’ve recently had the enjoyable task of writing about all of them for a major in-progress book project (details to come), and today I’d thought I’d share text on one – just one – [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Duikers once more

Common duiker in profile; image in public domain.

Time for another classic from the archives. This article originally appeared on Tet Zoo ver 2 back in August 2008 (my god… about six years ago), and appears here in tweaked, updated form. Duikers or cephalophines are an entirely African group of bovids, and so far as we know they have never gotten out of [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Seals, the early years

stem-pinniped-slide-1-600-px-tiny-June-2014-Tetrapod-Zoology

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for… stem-pinnipeds at Tet Zoo. Or, probable stem-pinnipeds anyway. This minimum-effort post is brought to you on the back of work showing that pinnipeds (seals, sea lions and walruses) are monophyletic, not diphyletic, and that the taxa shown here – Potamotherium, Puijila and so on – really are [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Old World monkeys of choice

Male Gelada, Howletts Animal Park. Don't call them 'gelada baboons', since they're not baboons. Photo by Darren Naish.

There have never been enough primates on Tet Zoo. That isn’t because I’m not interested in primates, nor because I don’t think about primates, or look at primates, that much… in fact, I probably think about, and look at, primates more than I do any other group of animals… it’s simply because – as is [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Pronghorn, designed by committee

Neat diagram from one of the Orbis World of Wildlife volumes, written by Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente.

So much for posting more on ratites – alas, I just haven’t had time to finish the next article. Inspired by an article recently published by my friend and homeboy Brian Switek, I thought it time to republish this 2010 article. Enjoy. The Pronghorn or Pronghorn antelope* Antilocapra americana is a strikingly unique artiodactyl, endemic to [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Mystery big cat skulls from the Peruvian Amazon not so mysterious anymore

Skulls and accompanying life restorations of (A) the Peruvian 'Anomalous jaguar' and (B) 'Peruvian tiger'; image by Gustavo Sanchez.

Scientific projects are very often years in the making. Within the past few days, I’ve had a new paper appear in the open-access journal PeerJ. It’s co-written with Manabu Sakamoto, Peter Hocking and Gustavo Sanchez. Therein, we examine and, we think, resolve the previously vexing identity of two big cat skulls obtained in the Peruvian [...]

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