As a regular reader, you might know that Tet Zoo has been going for over nine years now. I've written about a lot of stuff, I’ve been intrigued and enthused by a substantial number of animals and animal-themed topics, and I’ve been attracted to a variety of controversial ideas and claimed discoveries.
Time again to look at some recently published books relevant to the TetZooniverse - book on palaeoart, primates, bats, and crocodylians...
I've said on several previous occasions that domestic animals are far from outside the Tet Zoo remit. On the contrary, I find them to be of great interest, and I think that their diversity, evolution and behaviour is something that we should pay attention to more often.
I'm about as interested in domestic animals as I am in non-domesticated ones. Sheep of various kinds have been discussed on Tet Zoo a few times, and right now I want to say a few brief things about a breed I recently saw on several occasions in Romania - the Turcana or Tsurcana, a highly [...]
Some of you will know that I'm putting together a giant textbook on the vertebrate fossil record… and, oh god, it isn't easy. If you want sneak-peeks on how things are going, please consider supporting me at my patreon page.
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.
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.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: one of the most familiar and frequently encountered of mammal groups (at least, to those of us in Eurasia and parts of the Americas) - DEER - are weird and fascinating when you get to know them.
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 [...]
There are lots of reasons for liking wildebeest… or gnus. For me, the main one comes from the fact that they are insanely flamboyant in appearance.
One of the most fascinating episodes in the history of palaeontology is that of Piltdown man, an alleged human ancestor discovered in 1908 at Piltdown in Sussex, England. Formally named Eoanthropus dawsoni in 1912, Piltdown man matched early 20th century expectations of what a human ancestor might be like. It combined a large brain with an ape-like jaw (therefore confirming ideas that the evolution of big brains led the way in hominin evolution), and it lived in Europe (confirming ideas that hominin evolution was a Eurasian event, the hominins of Africa and tropical Asia being divergent irrelevancies or side-branches). The African australopithecines had yet to be discovered, nor had scarcely any of the wealth of fossil African hominins we know of today.
For over 100 years, a potentially significant dead cat has been sat in storage in a British museum. Specifically, the specimen – the lynx Ab4458 – has been at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery ever since it was added to the collections there in February 1903, and what makes it significant is that it was shot dead after living wild in Devon, southern England. As revealed in a new paper published by Aberystwyth* University’s Max Blake and a team of colleagues (myself, Greger Larson, Charlotte King, Geoff Nowell, Manabu Sakamoto and Ross Barnett), the specimen represents a historic ‘British big cat’, though with ‘big cat’ being used very much in the vernacular sense, not the technical one (Blake et al. 2013).
Among the weirdest and most fascinating of rodents are the scalytails/scaly-tails, scaly-tailed squirrels or anomalures, properly termed Anomaluridae.
Sometimes, I pick up Volume II of Walker's Mammals of the World, go to page 1400 or 1500 or thereabouts and look at all the obscure Old World rats and mice.
Time for another article on placental mammal phylogeny, again focusing on results that are still not tremendously well known outside the zoological community (for previous articles go here for a general introduction to placental phylogeny, and here for thoughts on the position of pangolins).
Warthogs are African members of the pig family, famous for their long, upcurved tusks and facial ‘warts’. They are mostly naked-skinned, possess a dorsal crest that’s longest over the neck and shoulders, and are specialised grazers that ‘kneel’ on their wrists in order to bring the mouth close to the ground. As much as I’d like the talk about warthogs at length, we’re here because of the skeleton and, specifically, just a few things about it...
Let’s face it, there’s an extraordinary number of fairly obscure Paleogene artiodactyl groups that are only familiar if you’re a specialist.
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.
One of the Pleistocene mammals depicted without fail in popular books – encyclopedias of prehistoric life and the like – is the Woolly rhinoceros Coelodonta antiquitatis (the species name is written antiquus in many sources).
Last Thursday (August 8th, 2013) a Brazilian or Lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris at Dublin Zoo (Ireland) seriously attacked and injured a two-year-old girl that, believe it or don’t, was taken into the tapir’s enclosure.