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The once far and wide Siamese crocodile


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Siamese crocodile, photo by Rlevse, in public domain.

ResearchBlogging.org

Welcome to part II in the Crocodiles of the World series. In the previous part we began our tour of the crocodile species themselves by looking at the Mugger or Marsh crocodile Crocodylus palustris, a robust, (mostly) tropical Asian crocodile that’s probably closely related to the species within the Indopacific assemblage (though read on). Here we look at what might be the Mugger’s closest relative, the poorly known, highly endangered Siamese or Thailand crocodile C. siamensis.

Siamese crocodile, photographed in captivity by Dave Hone.

The Siamese crocodile is a relatively broad-snouted crocodile with raised bony crests behind each eye (superficially recalling those of the Cuban crocodile C. rhombifer, although smaller), a distinctive longitudinal ridge between its eyes, and unique granular anterior throat scales. It tends to be greyish-yellow, often with dark bands and blotches on its sides and tail. Its dorsal scute compliment is not that different from that of the Mugger, but the cervical shield in the Siamese croc is composed of smaller scutes, there is a more distinct gap between dorsal and cervical shields, and the transverse row closest to the head (the post-occipital row) is more reduced (Ross & Mayer 1983). Siamese crocodiles seem not to exceed a total length of 3.5 m and their snout shape suggests a generalised diet of diverse invertebrate and vertebrate prey.

Yai, a hybrid Siamese x Saltwater croc (or 'Siamestuary crocodile', according to some). He's gnarly.

It’s well known that Siamese crocs will hybridise with Saltwater crocs C. porosus in captivity (and in the wild as well), the resulting offspring sometimes being enormous animals. An especially famous hybrid individual known as Yai (or Jao Yai), hatched in 1972 and kept at the Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo in Thailand, is between 5.5 and 6 m long (different sources give different lengths). Yai is apparently the largest crocodile kept in captivity (his identification as a siamensisporosus hybrid has been informally doubted by some but it’s likely that this is what he is. So far as I know, his genetics have not been investigated).

Historically, the Siamese crocodile occupied much of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia) as well as Java, Borneo and some of the adjacent small islands. Human hunting and habitat destruction has removed it from much of this range and in recent decades its persistence in some of the countries concerned has been doubted: in Laos, for example, Mateus (2002) reported the first sighting in 30 years and only a handful of individuals seem to persist in the wild in Thailand. Habitat modification for rice growing is one of the main reasons for its decline in that country. Captive breeding efforts has been reasonably successful and large numbers live in zoos, crocodile parks and other collections.

Fossil material from Java, originally described as C. ossifragus, apparently represents Pleistocene occurrences of this species.

The mysterious ‘Sulawesi lake crocodile’: does the Siamese crocodile occur on Sulawesi?

The Siamese crocodile is supposed to be a freshwater specialist that shows a strong preference for rivers, swamps and lakes in heavily forested areas. In fact, an alternative (and little-used) common name for the species is the ‘Siamese freshwater crocodile’. If this is so, what’s it doing on such far-flung islands as Borneo and Java? Its presence on Sumatra has been rumoured (e.g., Trutnau & Sommerlad 2006) but remains unconfirmed. And what about Sulawesi? The idea that Siamese crocodiles live on Sulawesi has been mentioned a few times in the literature (e.g., Trutnau & Sommerlad 2006) but also seems never to have been confirmed. In fact, reports of lake-dwelling crocodiles on Sulawesi even appear in the cryptozoological literature (Eberhart 2002), the implication being that they might represent an undiscovered species. [Map below by Achim Raschka.]

Recent distribution of Siamese crocodile (note lack of presence on Sulawesi). Map by Achim Raschka, from wikipedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Let’s suppose for a moment that the species does occur on Borneo, Java and Sulawesi. Would this distribution show that the species will actually make sea crossings when the need arises? Note that a modern sea crossing from Borneo to Sulawesi – this involves crossing the fabled Wallace’s Line – would mean swimming across the 200 km of the Makassar Strait. This body is water is nowhere less than 1000 m deep; in fact, these days, Sulawesi is surrounded on all sides by deep water.

Or, is it that the island-dwelling populations reached these islands via terrestrial routes, and became isolated by tectonic events and/or sea-level changes? Sumatra, Java and Borneo were connected to mainland Asia during the Pleistocene, and this makes it totally plausible that Siamese crocs got to these islands via terrestrial routes.

If, however, Siamese crocs are present on Sulawesi, we have an interesting problem, since Sulawesi has a very distinct geological history and probably last had a terrestrial connection with Borneo in the late Miocene (Moss & Wilson 1999). Having said that, shallow carbonate shelf regions did span part of the distance between Borneo and Sulawesi during the early part of the Pliocene (Moss & Wilson 1999): shallow seas don’t help you make a sea crossing if you’re a land mammal, but they might make things easier for crocodiles seeing as they can rest on the seafloor if it’s within easy reach of the surface.

Map of SE Asia and northern Australasia showing continental shelves exposed during the Pleistocene (in grey) and biogeographic boundaries. From Moss & Wilson (1999).

If it wasn’t possible for land animals to use a terrestrial connection to get to Sulawesi after the Miocene, Sulawesi’s Asian-style mammals and other terrestrial animals (the majority of which probably originated in the Pliocene or Pleistocene) must have crossed the Makassar Strait in risky, so-called sweepstakes fashion (Groves 2001). Could a crocodile – a crocodile with a strong preference for freshwater, at that – make a sea crossing of more than 100 km? Well, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. Given that even ‘dedicated’ freshwater members of the alligator lineage simply must have crossed marine barriers in the geological past (Common caiman Caiman crocodilus are present on Trinidad), (just about) anything’s possible.

However, supposing, again, that the Siamese croc does occur on Sulawesi, the idea that it might have made use of a terrestrial route that existed in the Miocene isn’t entirely out of the question, since there are indications from the fossil record and from divergence timings that the stem-lineages of at least some living crocodile species extend back that far (Brochu 2000a, Oaks 2011). So, hypothetically, maybe a stem-member of the Siamese crocodile lineage could have used a terrestrial route to get to Sulawesi.

However, I think that all of this speculation is moot, since – even if there are lake-dwelling crocodiles on Sulawesi – I’m not aware of any good reason to think that they’re Siamese crocodiles. Saltwater crocodiles C. porosus definitely occur on Sulawesi, Saltwater crocodiles very happily walk to, or swim to, freshwater lakes well inland, and hence Saltwater crocodiles are the species we should think of when we wonder about the identity of Sulawesi’s ‘mystery crocodiles’. Having said that, I’d love to be wrong.

Submerged Siamese crocodile, photo by Mo Hassan. This individual has especially prominent squamosal crests (those tall ridges behind the eyes), and in this respect superficially recalls the distantly related Cuban crocodile (C. rhombifer).

One more thing on distribution. Given that Siamese crocs are present on Java and Borneo, why aren’t they present on Sumatra? They should be, so those rumoured, unconfirmed accounts plausibly have a basis in reality. Does the species persist on Sumatra, or has it become extinct? If it is extinct there, why? Readers with good recollection of the currently absent content of Tet Zoo ver 2 will recall the similarly selective distribution of Indopacific mekosuchines – technically, they should have been more widespread than fossils and archaeological specimens presently indicate.

Oh, for a place in a cladogram

Either way, reproductive isolation for the Siamese crocodiles on Java and Borneo is suggested by their pattern of gular scalation, which is apparently quite different from that present on the Siamese crocs of the Asian mainland (Trutnau & Sommerlad 2006). It would be interesting to know how these Indonesian animals compare genetically to the ones from the mainland, and what the data might say about the timing of their separation from mainland populations of C. siamensis. While there are a few genetic studies that incorporate data from the C. siamensis, I can’t see that anyone has done a study that compares populations in this way. Say so if you know otherwise.

Highly simplified cladogram showing one phylogenetic hypothesis proposed for crocodiles. This topology is based on a tree in McAliley et al. (2006) but other topologies have been published. Some workers, for example, find the niloticus + New World assemblage clade to be the sister-group to a (porosus + siamensis) + 'reduced' Indopacific assemblage clade. Photos (top to bottom) by Mo Hassan, Davric, Wilfried Berns, Naish, Dave Hone. Image of New Guinea crocodile (icon for 'reduced' Indopacific assemblage) licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany license.

The phylogenetic position of the Siamese crocodile is slightly controversial, but only because there are competing phylogenies for Crocodylus. We saw in the previous article that Crocodylus crocodiles have often been thought to consist of distinct Indopacific and New World assemblages, with the Nile crocodile C. niloticus being a close relative of the New World assemblage. Morphological evidence suggests that the Siamese crocodile might be the sister-taxon to the Indopacific assemblage, or to a Mugger + Indopacific assemblage clade (Brochu 2000a, b, McAliley et al. 2006, Brochu & Storrs 2012).

However, molecular studies have confused this picture and the species in the Indopacific assemblage don’t group together. Instead, New Guinea C. novaeguineae and Philippine crocs C. mindorensis are close kin, the Australian Freshwater crocodile C. johnstoni may or may not be close to these two, and the Siamese crocodile may be the sister-taxon to the Mugger, or the sister-taxon to the Saltwater crocodile (McAliley et al. 2006, Meganathan et al. 2010, Man et al. 2011, Oaks 2011). If the Mugger, Siamese croc and Saltwater croc form a clade, this presumably originated in Asia before some lineages headed towards Australasia and the Indopacific. I’ve depicted this – in simplified form – in the adjacent cladogram. Because the Mugger, Siamese croc and Saltwater croc are removed from the New Guinea, Philippine and Freshwater croc in most molecular analyses, I’ve renamed the ‘Indopacific assemblage’ the ‘reduced’ Indopacific assemblage [the photo serving as the icon for that clade (a New Guinea crocodile) was taken by Wilfried Berns]. The content of this assemblage will be modified further in later articles in this series!

And that’s all for now. Next: Saltwater crocodiles and the invasion of Australasia.

For previous Tet Zoo articles on crocodiles, see…

Refs – -

Brochu, C. A. 2000a. Congruence between physiology, phylogenetics and the fossil record on crocodylian historical biogeography. In Grigg, G. C., Seebacher, F. & Franklin, C. E. (eds) Crocodilian Biology and Evolution. Surry Beatty & Sons (Chipping Norton, Aus.), pp. 9-28.

- . 2000b. Phylogenetic relationships and divergence timing of Crocodylus based on morphology and the fossil record. Copeia 2000, 657-673.

- . & Storrs, G. W. 2012. A giant crocodile from the Plio-Pleistocene of Kenya, the phylogenetic relationships of Neogene African crocodylines, and the antiquity of Crocodylus in Africa. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32, 587-602.

Eberhart, G. M. 2002. Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, Volume Two N-Z. ABC Clio, Santa Barbara.

Groves, C. P. 2001. Mammals in Sulawesi: where did they come from and when, and what happened to them when they got there? In Metcalfe, I., Smith, J. M. B., Morwood, M. & Davidson, I. (eds) Faunal and Floral Migration and Evolution in SE Asia-Australia. A. A. Balkema Publishers (Lisse, The Netherlands), pp. 333-342.

Man, Z., Yishu, W., Peng, Y. & Wu, X. 2011. Crocodilian phylogeny inferred from twelve mitochondrial protein-coding genes, with new complete mitochondrial genomic sequences for Crocodylus acutus and Crocodylus novaeguineae. Molecular Phylogenetic and Evolution 60, 62-67.

Mateus, O. 2002. The first direct observation of Crocodylus siamensis in Lao PDR in the last thirty years. Amphibia-Reptilia 22, 253-256.

McAliley LR, Willis RE, Ray DA, White PS, Brochu CA, & Densmore LD 3rd (2006). Are crocodiles really monophyletic?–Evidence for subdivisions from sequence and morphological data. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, 39 (1), 16-32 PMID: 16495085

Meganathan, P. R., Dubey, B., Batzer, M. A., Ray, D. A. & Haque, I. 2010. Molecular phylogenetic analyses of genus Crocodylus (Eusuchia, Crocodylia, Crocodylidae) and the taxonomic position of Crocodylus porosus. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57, 393-402.

Moss, S. J. & Wilson, E. J. 1999. Biogeographic implications of the Tertiary palaeogeographic evolution of Sulawesi and Borneo. In Hall, R. & Holloway, J. D. (eds) Biogeography and Geological Evolution of SE Asia. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, 133-155.

Oaks, J. R. 2011. A time-calibrated species tree of Crocodylia reveals a recent radiation of the true crocodiles. Evolution 65, 3285-3297.

Ross, F. D. & Mayer, G. C. 1983. On the dorsal armor of the Crocodilia. In Rhodin, A. G. J. & Miyata, K. (eds) Advances in Herpetology and Evolutionary Biology. Museum of Comparative Zoology (Cambridge, Mass.), pp. 306-331.

Trutnau, L. & Sommerlad, R. 2006. Crocodilians: Their Natural History and Captive Husbandry. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt.

Darren Naish About the Author: Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at darrennaish.wordpress.com. He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at tetzoo.com!

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The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Dartian 7:58 am 06/15/2012

    Fossil material from Java, originally described as C. ossifragus, apparently represents Pleistocene occurrences of this species.

    So the crocodiles that (according to Eugène Dubois) preyed on Homo erectus on Java were probably conspecific with extant Siamese crocodiles? Neat, I didn’t know that!

    Its presence on Sumatra has been rumoured (e.g., Ludwig & Ralf 2006) but remains unconfirmed.

    If the Siamese crocodile really is absent from Sumatra, that would be a very interesting parallel to the distribution of the leopard Panthera pardus. The leopard, too, is present on the SE Asian mainland and on Java, respectively, but not on Sumatra. In the case of the leopard, a possible explanation for this is the presence on that island of other felids (the larger tiger on the other hand and various smaller cat species on the other), which – so the hypothesis goes – competitively exclude the leopard (in other words, there is supposedly no ‘room’ for a leopard-sized cat on Sumatra). Could something similar perhaps explain the absence of the Siamese crocodile from Sumatra?

    Link to this
  2. 2. naishd 8:12 am 06/15/2012

    Yes, C. ossifragus is C. siamensis

    Delfino, M. & De Vos, J. 2010. A revision of the Dubois crocodylians, Gavialis bengawanicus and Crocodylus ossifragus, from the Pleistocene Homo erectus Beds of Java. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30, 427-441.

    I confess that I haven’t read this paper yet; not sure what, if anything, it says on biogeography.

    As for competitive exclusion explaining the absence of Siamese crocs from Sumatra – I immediately thought about leopards too. I don’t know if it could apply for crocs. Similar-sized species tend to avoid sympatry, but a dedicated freshwater population of C. siamensis might well avoid competitive overlap with a mostly coastal C. porosus one. Interesting issue.

    Darren

    Link to this
  3. 3. Heteromeles 10:33 am 06/15/2012

    Um, can we cite any other part of the tiger’s range where they competitively exclude leopards? They are fairly different.

    Link to this
  4. 4. Dartian 11:58 am 06/15/2012

    Heteromeles: The idea is that it’s not just competition with the tiger, but competition with the tiger and with various smaller species of cat that supposedly has excluded the leopard from Sumatra (think Asian golden cat and the like; incidentally, unlike the leopard, the Asian golden cat is found on Sumatra but not on Java).

    Link to this
  5. 5. naishd 12:03 pm 06/15/2012

    There’s also the argument that even a relatively large island can only support so many big carnivores before inbreeding depression and so on start to pose a problem for long-term persistence. I don’t have the paper to hand, but I think that this is covered (with reference to Sumatran leopards) in…

    O’Regan, H. J. 2002. European Quaternary refugia: a factor in large carnivore extinction? Journal of Quaternary Research 17, 789-795.

    Will try and remember to check.

    Darren

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  6. 6. Andreas Johansson 12:06 pm 06/15/2012

    Kampuchea

    That’s the country better known as Cambodia.

    (There’s a tendency to use the form “Kampuchea” particularly for the country under the Pol Pot regime in the ’70s, so it might be perceived as politically suspect.)

    Link to this
  7. 7. naishd 12:19 pm 06/15/2012

    I forget why I went with ‘Kampuchea’. Probably used it while looking at an old source, meant to check, and forget. Now corrected, thanks.

    Darren

    Link to this
  8. 8. andrewwright73 12:29 pm 06/15/2012

    Echoing the call to change Kampuchea to Cambodia!

    Also, Lonely Planet guidebooks have been reporting the presence of crocs in Laos since their first guidebook to that country circa 1996, in Salavan Province at a Mekong floodplain lake called Nong Bua.

    Cambodia apparently has relict populations in the Tonle Sap lake and also recently rediscovered in the Cardamom Mountains.

    In Thailand, escaped individuals turn up in places like Khao Yai national park, and plenty escaped during the floods that devastated the country last year and allegedly remain at large in the lower Chao Phraya basin, along with a fugitive population of Green Mambas.

    Dusit Zoo in Bangkok has excellent examples of all three regional species, including a big hybrid, and a big saltie.

    (your man in Bangkok!)

    Link to this
  9. 9. naishd 12:48 pm 06/15/2012

    Green mambas in Thailand??? Woah. Thanks much for info. Given Mateus (2002) – see reference above – I’m really intrigued to know if what the Lonely Planet books say is true. Could they have been relying on old info?

    Darren

    Link to this
  10. 10. Halbred 1:21 pm 06/15/2012

    That second picture is great. You really get a sense of those dorsal osteoderms. This leads me to a question. I know that crocodilian osteoderms were for protection but also underlying muscle attachment (I might be getting that slightly wrong), so it makes me think of ankylosaurs. Could a similar duel purpose exist for their armor?

    Link to this
  11. 11. Hai~Ren 1:24 pm 06/15/2012

    Never knew that Siamese crocodiles were supposed to be found in Java and Borneo too! Just found a PDF of a recent study on a population of Siamese crocodiles in East Kalimantan, Borneo.

    I wonder if the supposed Borneo freshwater crocodile (described as Crocodylus raninus), which is supposed to be a peat swamp specialist, has anything to do with the Borneo populations of Siamese crocodile. (Supposed identifying features of C. raninus are listed here)

    Where absence of leopard on Sumatra is concerned, I recalled these 2 other papers:

    Wilkinson, D.M. & O’Regan, H.J. 2003. Modelling differential extinctions to understand big cat
    distribution on Indonesian islands. Global Ecology & Biogeography 12, 519–524. [PDF]

    Modelling says that tiger populations are less extinction prone than leopard populations; both tiger & leopards could have been present on Sumatra, Java & Balu during Pleistocene, but leopards might have died out on Sumatra & Bali while tigers managed to persist on all 3 islands.

    Meijaard, E. 2004. Biogeographic History of the Javan Leopard Panthera pardus Based on a Craniometric Analysis. Journal of Mammalogy 85, 302-310. [PDF]

    Says that low ungulate biomass & competition from other large carnivores (tiger, Sunda clouded leopard, dhole) probably excluded leopard from Sumatra & Borneo.

    Link to this
  12. 12. andrewwright73 1:40 pm 06/15/2012

    Escaped Green Mamba link:

    http://www.cnngo.com/bangkok/life/new-fear-flood-hit-thais-deadly-green-mambas-583742

    (the reference to serum from South America should of course be South Africa)

    AFAIK, none were ever recaptured.

    The original LP mention of crocs in Lao reads:

    “Nong Bua, a lake 14km east of town [Salavan] near the source of the Don River (Se Don [a Mekong tributary]), is famous for its crocodiles, which are most abundant during the rainy season.” (Cummings, 1994, p. 182)

    from:

    Cummings, J. (1994). Laos: A travel survival kit. Hawthorn, VIC: Lonely Planet Publications.

    The second edition (1996) adds:

    “Nong Kangdong, a lake in Khong Sedon district south-west of the capital [Salavan], also reportedly has crocs” (1996, p. 237)

    Not sure what’s in the most recent editions. Looks like the author heard there were crocs there but didn’t actually visit and/or see any. Salavan Province is in southern Laos, on the northern fringe of the spectacular Bolaven Plateau. There’s rumours of rhinos on the border with Cambodia further south, but nothing definite.

    I lived in Laos for a year in 1996 but never made it to Salavan. My one big regret!

    Link to this
  13. 13. Wilbert Friesen 4:36 pm 06/15/2012

    Amazing and highly interesting creatures.
    But whatever happened to Tet Zoo 2 ?
    Today I wanted to write something about the quite enigmatic Borhyaenids. And Darren is one of the Life LInes there because the information is very, very scarce.
    So I naturally wanted to Check Tet Zoo 2. But it is all gone !
    Unbelievable.
    All this beauty gone ??
    Why ?
    And also the comments which were highly interesting and informative.
    Again why ??

    I won’t use swear words but it is highly depressing. The best blog on Internet has just vanished with all it’s wonders.
    I can’t believe it !!

    Link to this
  14. 14. Heteromeles 4:48 pm 06/15/2012

    Putting on my megasnarkosaurus cap, it does seem that National Geographic has been infected by the Rupert Murdoch corporatist anti-science bug, through their partnership with New Corporation to produce the National Geographic Channel. And in case you’re wondering, yes, that may be why the programming on National Geographic is getting increasingly creepy.

    Actually, my subscription to National Geographic magazine is just about up, and given what’s happened with TetZoo 2, I’m seriously considering canceling it for the first time in my life. Better finish this post before the froth starts spraying from my lips. I’m seriously annoyed.

    Link to this
  15. 15. Heteromeles 4:53 pm 06/15/2012

    Although I can’t imagine Darren wants to get involved, if anyone else feels the need to dump Nat. Geo. magazine over what they did to Tet Zoo 2, go ahead. Speak up, even. Hitting them in the pocketbook might get their attention faster than letters of concern from the science community.

    Link to this
  16. 16. Bret Newton 6:55 pm 06/15/2012

    What does anyone know/think about the animals on Borneo being a different species (Crocodylus raninus)? I’ve seen this thrown about from time to time, but never seen any studies.

    Link to this
  17. 17. vdinets 9:35 pm 06/15/2012

    Bret: the Borneo animals are finally being studied (after being the stuff of cryptozoology for decades), and appear to be normal siamensis, except for minor differences in scalation mentioned above.

    I’ve spent some time on Sulawesi looking for saltwater crocs (of which there are apparently very few left). The island has only a handful of lakes, all of them small, and few sizable rivers. That said, all crocs (to my knowledge) have salt-secreting glands and can spend a long time in salt water, so crossing 200 km is not much of a problem for them. And, of course, ancient human introduction is always a possibility, since live crocs are easy to transport and can be used as travel provisions (Osteolaemus are still used for that in Africa).

    Link to this
  18. 18. Bret Newton 9:55 pm 06/15/2012

    Thanks Vlad. Is there enough differentiation to label them as a separate subspecies of siamensis?

    Link to this
  19. 19. vdinets 11:41 pm 06/15/2012

    Bret: that depends on your criteria for subspecies, but I think labeling them as a separate one wouldn’t meet much objection. On the other hand, subspecific systematics of all crocodilians (I use the word as vernacular, not as a scientific term) have had rather unfortunate history, in part due to insufficient interest, so it might take a long time for a consensus to emerge.

    BTW, the easiest place to see Siamese crocs in the wild (to my knowledge) is Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam. It has a nice reintroduced population living in a beautiful lake with lots of other wildlife. Dry season is better for croc watching there.

    Link to this
  20. 20. naishd 6:25 am 06/16/2012

    Thanks loads for comments.

    On the disappearance of Tet Zoo ver 2…

    If you follow me on facebook or twitter (there is a Tetrapod Zoology facebook page) you’ll know that I’ve been emailing ScienceBlogs to see if ver 2 can be salvaged. My message reads:-

    ————————
    My name is Darren Naish, and between 2007 and 2011 I wrote the blog Tetrapod Zoology (= Tet Zoo) at ScienceBlogs. I left for Scientific American during 2011.

    Between then and a few weeks ago, the contents of Tet Zoo remained at ScienceBlogs, effectively forming an archive of the many 100s of articles I published there. These articles have provided an important resource for many researchers and colleagues, and I know from hit counts that they continued to draw in thousands of hits daily (due to sheer presence on google).

    However, a couple of weeks ago all the comments disappeared from the site (this happened at the same time as the whole platform migrated to wordpress). I consider this a major loss as they contain a huge amount of information. Then, a few days ago, Tet Zoo in entirety was deleted. I know that Tet Zoo was hosted on web space owned by Nat Geo, and hence that Nat Geo/ScienceBlogs can (more or less) do whatever it likes with this blog, but its removal is something of a loss. I’m emailing to ask if any of the blog content is available for salvage anywhere, or if there’s any way that I can retrieve the content.

    Thank you for any response, best wishes.
    ————————

    I’ve sent the email to both webmaster@scienceblogs.com and editorial@scienceblogs.com but have yet to receive responses. I have no idea whether other email requests from other individual would help, but feel free to try if you want, it’s appreciated. As I’ve said before, I – obviously – have all the text and all the images saved in my own files, but I don’t have the comments. In theory, I can therefore reconstruct all of the articles should I wish. I suppose I’ll have to do this if things don’t pan out at ScienceBlogs. There are some things to consider though…

    – even when an article is complete, resizing images, uploading, formatting and so on still takes time. So, any time spent republishing ver 2 articles takes time away from the creation of the novel content I otherwise plan to publish here at ver 3. Seeing as time is limited, and seeing as my aim is to get through as much of Tetrapoda as possible before I die, this is depressing.
    – I need to check the small-print, but I think that one of the conditions of being a SciAm blogger is that you don’t blog elsewhere. I could be wrong about this, need to check. It may limit my ability to publish the ver 2 articles at another site.

    I’ll keep you all updated, and thanks to those who have offered help and advice.

    Darren

    Link to this
  21. 21. naishd 6:25 am 06/16/2012

    One more thing – C. raninus is covered in the next article in the series.

    Darren

    Link to this
  22. 22. Heteromeles 10:56 am 06/16/2012

    So Darren, how about a tribute blog?

    Link to this
  23. 23. DaveBallBeds 12:11 pm 06/16/2012

    Hi Darren,

    I’ve been lurking here for a few months, having originally discovered Tet Zoo by doing a Google search for Homotherium, after re-reading part of Yalden’s History of British Mammals. The Tet Zoo article on European big cats was about the second or third hit (after the inevitable fairly rubbish Wiki entry), and of course provided vastly more info. I followed up by skimming though all of Ver 2 and Ver 1, cherry picking the articles which I thought looked more interesting. As I did so, I realised two things, first that many of the articles I thought would be less interesting weren’t, and second that there was a vast amount of additional valuable stuff buried in the comments (particularly when you yourself added extra material or replied to questions). As a result, I started to systematically work my way through Ver 2, reading every article and every comment, apart from the odd occasion when some creationist or something popped up (nearly typo-ed “pooped up” there, which is probably more accurate) and instigated a pointless argument.

    Then, just as I’d reached ‘A Casefull of Kingfishers’, which was about halfway through, the comments disappeared, followed by the whole site. Pretty gutting.

    Still, at least Tet Zoo has re-broadened horizons. I don’t think I’d read anything on dinosaurs since Bakker’s Hot-blooded Dinosaurs, apart from the odd New Scientist article (and they don’t tend to be too hot on palaeontology). I knew that birds were descended from Dinosaurs, that there were some things with big foot claws, and that some interesting feathered forms had turned up in China, but that was about it. Hey, Maniraptors? Enantiornithes? WTF? A lot’s certainly happened in the last forty years. You guys have been busy. Last time I looked, Brontosaurus had only just become Apatosaurus. I’ve even visited the BMNH a couple of times for the first time since my early twenties.

    Thanks a great deal. I will be emailing Nat Geo to protest.

    Dave Ball

    Link to this
  24. 24. David Marjanović 5:54 pm 06/17/2012

    On the ScienceBlogs version of Pharyngula, all comments are gone. PZ Myers recently commented on this:

    Scienceblogs comment transfer script blew up when it tried to deal with Pharyngula comments. They promise they’ll get them up eventually, but it’s going to be a slower process than expected.

    Perhaps the same has happened to all of Tet Zoo?

    Link to this
  25. 25. naishd 9:51 am 06/18/2012

    Tribute blog (comment 22): hey, feel free (smiley).

    Regarding reappearance of ver 2 and its comments… Greg Laden says that disappearance of all 2007-2011 ScienceBlogs articles and comments was never intended (and that any currently absent content will reappear), but already there is much anger and unhappiness with NatGeo’s behaviour (see my twitter feed). As Bora has said, they’ve just erased four years of blogging history and removed a ton of information from the web.

    Dave Ball: thanks for the kind words.

    Darren

    Link to this
  26. 26. Maddogplatt 2:30 am 06/25/2012

    Laos has a globally significant population of Siamese crocodiles in Savannakhet Province. Crocodiles are thought to be the embodiment of spirits, and therefore villagers normally don’t molest or harm them. These local beliefs are probably responsible for the continued survival of Siamese crocs in the province.

    Steve

    Link to this
  27. 27. Crocman 11:26 am 06/27/2012

    This valuable paper on Tomistoma might give you some additional ideas on the biogeographic details.

    And YES: We do have Siamese Crocodiles in Borneo, please check http://www.yayasan-ulin.org and the connected links…with recently published sensational photos!
    Cheers
    Ralf

    Link to this

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