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Posts Tagged "herpetology"

The Artful Amoeba

Alpine Toads and the Chytrids that Love Them

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When you read a story, you may occasionally wonder what the reporter went through to get it. About a month ago I arose at 5 a.m. to  accompany two wildlife biologists and three fisheries volunteers into the high country of Colorado in order to report a story that came out in High Country News this [...]

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Symbiartic

Road Kill So Perty You Can Bring It Home To Ma

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Most people swerve around road kill in hopes of avoiding the gore, or worse, the dreaded thwump that indicates you added your treadmarks to the list of said road kill’s insults. But a few crazy people will screech to a halt to see what got hit. Two of these folks just happen to be researchers, [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Short-snouted, suction-feeding ‘proto-ichthyosaur’ sheds light on fish-lizard beginnings

Mesozoic marine reptile 'super-clade' recovered by Motani et al. (2014) when they included aquatic adaptations in the data set. Image by Darren Naish.

Regular readers will know that I have a major interest in ichthyosaurs, the so-called fish-lizards of the Mesozoic (see links below). As you’ll know if you keep your finger on the pulse of Mesozoic reptile news, last week saw the publication of a really interesting new animal from the Lower Triassic: the Chinese ‘proto-ichthyosaur’ Cartorhynchus [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Terrestriality, high-walking and dimorphic snout crests: phytosaurs part II

Life-size model of the phytosaur Rutiodon at Dinosaur State Park, Connecticut. Image by Patrick Murphy, used with permission.

Time for more phytosaurs. The previous article is probably required reading. Phytosaurs are (so far as we can tell) members of the great diapsid reptile clade Archosauriformes. After all, they have an antorbital fenestra and various other characteristic bony features of this group. Within this clade, they’ve usually been regarded as members of Archosauria – [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Phytosaurs, (mostly) gharial-snouted reptiles of the Triassic, part I

Some representative phytosaur portraits. Top to bottom: Smilosuchus, xxxxx. Image by Darren Naish: available on merchandise at the Tet Zoo Redbubble shop!

As I hope I’ve said several or many times, there are many, many, many tetrapod groups that have never, ever received coverage on Tet Zoo. I know, it’s shocking. Today I’m extracting a section of text from a major in-progress book project. It’s on phytosaurs because they are among the neglected – readers with good [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Sandfishes and kin: of sand-swimming, placentation, and limb and digit reduction (skinks part III)

Captive Scincus scincus individuals - what neat and handsome animals they are. Images by HTO (at top) and Ltshears. Both images in public domain.

In recent articles I’ve made an effort to review the skinks of the world and today – it’s a momentous occasion – we see the last part of this series. I hope it’s clear that the Tet Zoo skink ‘review’ is very much a simple summary: it really doesn’t do justice to the full diversity [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

‘Shanklin croc’ and the dawn of the tethysuchian radiation

The three crocodylomorph groups originally assembled in the 'longirostrine clade' by Clark (in Benton & Clark 1988). Thalattosuchia includes two group: teleosaurids and metriorhynchoids.

Hey, Darren, how’s it going with that plan to discuss all the fossil crocodylomorph groups? Huh? Well, ha ha, it ain’t going so well… goddam life getting in the way of my blogging. But the publication of a new technical paper, co-authored by myself and colleagues and led by marine crocodylomorph guru Mark Young, gives [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Terror skinks, social skinks, crocodile skinks, monkey-tailed skinks… it’s about skinks (skinks part II)

Criminally simplified depiction of lygosomine skink phylogeny (topology mostly based on Pyron et al. 2013). Photos (top to bottom) by Wolfgang Wuster, H. Zell, $Mathe94$, Benjamint444 (all CC BY-SA 3.0), Mark Stevens (CC BY 2.0), W.A. Djatmiko, S. Caut et al. (both CC BY-SA 3.0).

October 2014 continues – for no particular reason at all – to be Lizard Month here at Tet Zoo and right now it’s time for more skinks. The previous article is a sort of general introduction to the group as well as a review of the limbless acontiines/acontids and weird feylinines. This time, we move [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Skinks skinks skinks (part I)

A Tiliqua montage. At top: Blotched blue-tongue (T. nigrolutea) (photo by Benjamin444, CC BY-SA 3.0). Below: A Shingleback (T. rugosa) (photo by Jarrod, CC-BY-2.0).

Skinks (properly Scincidae… though read on) are one of the most successful of squamate groups, accounting for approximately 1500 species – in other words, for about 25% of all lizards. Skinks occur on all continents (except Antarctica) as well as on numerous island groups. Extant species range from less than 10 cm in total length [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Racerunner lizards of the world unite

Racerunners as geopolitical icons. Steppe-runners (E. arguta) on stamps produced by Kyrgyzstan and Moldova. Images in public domain.

Today we’re here because of the lacertid lizards, the Old World clade that includes Eurasian wall lizards, green lizards, fringe-toed lizards and a great number of less familiar species groups that rarely get much attention outside of the specialist literature. Yes, as you might have realised if you’re a long-term and/or regular reader, this is [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Neat news from the TetZoo-sphere

"Tapirs sometimes walk on the bottom of lakes and rivers". Oh really? Yes, really.

Here are some amazing things that me and my friends have been talking about lately. They all concern fascinating discoveries or insights into unusual aspects of tetrapod behaviour. We’ll start with my current obsession: the short bit of underwater footage (16 seconds long) that shows an adult Lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris ‘walking’ (at great speed) [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Simbirskiasaurus, Pervushovisaurus and their very, very strange nostrils: the Cretaceous Ichthyosaur Revolution (part III)

Life reconstruction of Platypterygius australis by Frank Knight; the species concerned is one of the best known of species included within Platypterygius. It was a large, robust-jawed, long-paddled ophthalmosaurid with numerous stout teeth. Stomach contents confirm a generalised diet of invertebrates and vertebrates.

The event you’ve all been waiting for is here: Simbirskiasaurus and Pervushovisaurus have been resurrected, and we’re all wondering what the hell’s going on with their absurd, complex nostrils. Yes, welcome to another instalment in the long-running, slow-burning series of Tet Zoo articles on Cretaceous ichthyosaur diversity. In previous articles we’ve looked at the 2012 [...]

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