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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

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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Tetrapod Zoology

Monitor musings, varanid variables, goannasaurian goings-on… it’s about monitor lizards

Current version of the monitor montage. Image by Darren Naish.

There’s been a bit of a monitor lizard thing going on here for the past few months: articles have covered Australian goannas, the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis, Dumeril’s monitor and Timor and Peachthroat monitors, and the ‘prasinoid’ tree monitors. In ‘spare’ time, I’ve been working on the montage you see here, designed to depict a [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Portraits of amphisbaenians

Portrait of Amphisbaena alba, by Darren Naish.

There have never been enough amphisbaenians on Tet Zoo. In fact, the only time I’ve written about them at any sort of length is in the 2008 (and 2012) April Fool’s article wherein they were convincingly (cough) shown to be the true ancestors of mammals. In reality, amphisbaenians – popularly called worm lizards – are [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Turtles that eat bone, rocks and soil, and turtles that mine

Jason-Noble-snapper-2-600-px-tiny-April-2014-Tetrapod-Zoology

I have had extensive turtle guilt of late – that is, there just haven’t been enough turtles on Tet Zoo for a while… by which I mean, there haven’t been any. But fortune smiles on the thing that it smiles on, and a few neat photos have recently fallen into my proverbial lap, encouraging me [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Hell yes: Komodo dragons!!! (again)

Komodo dragon feeding scrum. Not sure what's in the middle, but I somehow doubt that it's alive.

What with all the monitor-themed goodness around these parts lately (see links below), it seems only fitting that I provide a re-vamped, substantially updated version of this Tet Zoo ver 2 classic (originally published in September 2007). Here we go… Without doubt, one of the coolest living animals on the planet is the Komodo dragon Varanus [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Plesiosaur Peril — the lifestyles and behaviours of ancient marine reptiles

The storyline of Plesiosaur Peril is mostly based around the association between a juvenile Cryptoclidus and her mother. Based on what we know, there are good reasons for thinking that parental care of some sort really did occur. In this image, the mother and juvenile surface for breath. Image from Plesiosaur Peril by Daniel Loxton, used with permission.

Between the later part of the Triassic and the very end of the Cretaceous, the seas of the world (and some of its rivers, lakes and estuaries as well) were inhabited by the remarkable group of swimming reptiles known as the plesiosaurs. All plesiosaurs – so far as we know – were predators, the shapes [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

The New World crocodile assemblage: crocodiles part VII – last in series!

American-crocodile

A momentous thing is about to happen. Take a deep breath and prepare yourself. Today is the day when… I finish my series of articles on the crocodiles of the world. As you’ll recall if you read the previous six parts of this series (all of which are linked to below), I’ve managed so far [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

“Lean, green and rarely seen”: enthralling prasinoid tree monitors

A tree monitor montage, images by Darren Naish.

I said in the previous Tet Zoo article on monitor lizards that I really wanted to cover the prasinoids; that is, the arboreal tree monitors of New Guinea, Cape York Peninsula and various of the islands surrounding these areas. So, let’s get to it. Tree monitors or prasinoids, also termed the Varanus prasinus species group, [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Cold-Blooded Cognition: Social Cognition in a Non-Social Reptile?

Earlier this week, scientist Anna Wilkinson won an IgNobel prize for her research on contagious yawning (really, the lack thereof) in red-footed tortoises. In case you’re not familiar with them, the IgNobel Prizes are given for research that “first makes you laugh, then makes you think.” Read Scicurious’s coverage of the awards here. Since I’ve [...]

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