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Posts Tagged "reptiles"

Extinction Countdown

Endangered Cayman Islands Parrots and Iguanas Could Use More Shelters and Havens

cayman grand blue iguana

We have heard a lot about Cayman Islands banking during this election season, but what about Cayman Islands endangered species? The three tiny islands that make up the Caymans—Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac—are home to a handful of endangered species that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. In the case of at [...]

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Extinction Countdown

60 Rare Tuatara Reptiles Moved to Predator-Free New Zealand Island

tuatara

Rare reptiles known as tuatara (the last two species of the order Sphenodontia) survived the age of the dinosaurs, but the age of man has given them a bit more trouble. After living in New Zealand for millions of years, tuatara were completely wiped out on the country’s two main islands by invasive Polynesian rats [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Killer Fungus Targeting Endangered Rattlesnakes

massasauga rattlesnake

In 2008 biologists studying the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) made a gruesome discovery: three sick snakes suffering from disfiguring lesions on their heads. All three died within the next three weeks. A fourth snake, found in 2010, also died from the mysterious growths and ulcers. Necropsies uncovered the source of the lesions: a [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Turtles in trouble: New report identifies the 25 most endangered turtle species

Critically endangered Burmese roofed turtle (Batagur trivittata)

Asian appetites are rapidly driving the world’s tortoises and freshwater turtles toward extinction, and some species might only be savable through costly and labor-intensive conservation efforts, according to both a new report and speakers at a workshop about conserving Asian turtles. “It’s going to take some intense management, both to protect wild populations and manage [...]

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Extinction Countdown

DNA tests find “extinct” Siamese crocodile

Siamese crocodile

For nearly 20 years, the critically endangered Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) has been considered nearly extinct in the wild, victimized by habitat loss and poaching. A small population was found in Cambodia in 2000 and, until now, it was believed that, at most, 250 of the rare crocodiles existed in the world. But recently, conservationists [...]

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Running Ponies

This snake’s venom makes you bleed from every orifice until you die

male-boomslang-featured

Hey so snakes that inject venom into the bloodstream are pretty bad, how about a snake that injects venom into your bloodstream AND makes you bleed out from every orifice? Sound good? The boomslang (Dispholidus typus) is a venomous tree snake native to Sub-Saharan Africa. Blunt-faced and pretty, with relatively enormous eyes and a bright, [...]

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Running Ponies

So Skinny, So Bright: How Colour Change Predicts the Odds of a Chameleon Battle

chameleon-face-off-featured

When it comes to male-on-male chameleon battles, sometimes it’s not all about who’s the biggest or the strongest. Sometimes it’s about mastering what chameleons do best – changing colours. With some males reaching more than 60 cm long, the veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) from the southwestern coastal regions of the Arabian Peninsula is one of [...]

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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

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

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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Tetrapod Zoology

For the love of crocodylomorphs

Brilliant life restoration of the recently described Cretaceous baurusuchid Aplestosuchus (with another crocodylomorph - a sphegesaurid - in its mouth), by Rodolfo Nogueira.

Crocodiles, alligators and gharials are the modern members of a far grander, far more diverse clade of archosaurian reptiles termed Crocodylomorpha. It’s gradually becoming better known that, in additional to including amphibious, long-skulled taxa like the living ones, the group encompasses an incredible array of terrestrial and semi-terrestrial omnivores, herbivores, carnivores and insectivores. Some had [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Musk turtles and mud turtles: look boring, are secretly hyper-diverse

At top: Common musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus), image by Laurent Lebois (licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license). At bottom: Oaxaca mud turtle (Kinosternon oaxacae), image by Vicente Mata Silva (licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license).

In a further effort to relieve Turtle Guilt (see the previous turtle-themed Tet Zoo article), I give you the following article devoted wholly to kinosternids, an exclusively American group of about 25 species of seemingly mundane and unspectacular turtles. Kinosternidae includes turtles that go by two common names: musk turtles (Sternotherus) and mud turtles (Kinosternon)… [...]

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