wwfdeutschland:

Gut getarnt! 

Das Teppichchamäleon stellt sich trotz der Anpassung an seien Umgebung bei einer potenziellen Gefahr tot. Spürt das Tier eine Berührung, lässt es sich fallen und ist dann auf dem Boden für Feinde kaum erkennbar.

Furcifer lateralis, the carpet chameleon (Teppichchamäleon in German)

courteousaviarist:

fieldmuseumphotoarchives:

Hesperornis was a large bird, reaching up to 6 feet (1.8 m) in length. It had virtually no wings, and swam with its powerful hind legs.

© The Field Museum, Z84076.

Hesperornis, model of the extinct flightless aquatic bird. Progress, for Hall 21 exhibit case.

5x7 negative.

2/3/1948 

are you KIDDING me

ARE YOU TELLING ME SNAKEBIRD COULD HAVE BEEN A REALITY!?

A message from Anonymous
Congratulations on the acceptance of your manuscript (pending changes). Also, I enjoy your tags on posts.

image

A message from Anonymous
Do you have any more whale puns to sei?

Nah, they’re making me melon-cholic.

A message from Anonymous
I do hope there's a porpoise to all of these puns.

Nah, my successful string of them was a bit of a fluke.

A message from Anonymous
you're such a cutie and my favorite person on tumblr so to hear you're having a good day has just significantly improved mine ;v;

http://37.media.tumblr.com/b83d721c2849d807ca3e1e4eabb5ca39/tumblr_n3vvooJtTl1tx6591o1_500.gif

A message from Anonymous
I am glad to see that you're having a good day! Your silly puns always make my day a little brighter. So thank you. :) I don't know where I was going with this message... Besides confessing my appreciation for your bog.

A message from Anonymous
How did you learn how to handle wild herps? What type of field training gave you that experience? (In short, how can I be just like you some day?)

I started handling lizards and amphibians when I was very young, and learned quickly how best to handle and especially catch them without harming them. At that age I had nobody but myself to teach me the best ways, so I learned by trial and error. I was taught how to safely handle snakes by a couple of American herpetologists in Madagascar when I was 14, among them Bill Love - well-known snake photographer and Madagascar enthusiast. I got more experience and instruction in pinning and handling feisty snakes when I was 18 from other herpetologists. I have now taught about 40 people how to handle herps safely.

To get this kind of training can be difficult. If you are in the US, you could meet up with field herpers via http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/, many of whom are well-enough experienced to give you the tuition you need. Alternatively you can find a reputable reptile breeder in your area and request that they teach you handling techniques.

Nobody gives out licenses for this in America. In Germany, courses are available and indeed are mandatory if you want to keep some species (e.g. large constrictors and venomous snakes). On the whole though, it is a matter of integrity and personal safety. Working outside your safety/comfort zone is stupid. Do not do it.

Note: If you want to learn to handle venomous snakes (and happen to be in Australia), AVOID http://www.snakehandlingcourses.com.au/ AT ALL COSTS. It is run by Raymond ‘The Menace’ Hoser and is probably the single best way to ruin your own reputation. You do not want to be painted with the same brush as him. Ever.

wapiti3:

Natural history of African birds /By Le Vaillant, Francois, 1753-1824 Shelley, GE (George Ernest), 1840-1910 Tristram, HB (Henry Baker), 1822-1906 on Flickr.
Publication info A Paris: Chez JJ Fuchs, libraire …, 7, 1799-1808 BHL Collections: Smithsonian Libraries

I do love me some sexual selection.
wapiti3:

Natural history of African birds /By Le Vaillant, Francois, 1753-1824 Shelley, GE (George Ernest), 1840-1910 Tristram, HB (Henry Baker), 1822-1906 on Flickr.
Publication info A Paris: Chez JJ Fuchs, libraire …, 7, 1799-1808 BHL Collections: Smithsonian Libraries

I do love me some sexual selection.
wapiti3:

Natural history of African birds /By Le Vaillant, Francois, 1753-1824 Shelley, GE (George Ernest), 1840-1910 Tristram, HB (Henry Baker), 1822-1906 on Flickr.
Publication info A Paris: Chez JJ Fuchs, libraire …, 7, 1799-1808 BHL Collections: Smithsonian Libraries

I do love me some sexual selection.
wapiti3:

Natural history of African birds /By Le Vaillant, Francois, 1753-1824 Shelley, GE (George Ernest), 1840-1910 Tristram, HB (Henry Baker), 1822-1906 on Flickr.
Publication info A Paris: Chez JJ Fuchs, libraire …, 7, 1799-1808 BHL Collections: Smithsonian Libraries

I do love me some sexual selection.
wapiti3:

Natural history of African birds /By Le Vaillant, Francois, 1753-1824 Shelley, GE (George Ernest), 1840-1910 Tristram, HB (Henry Baker), 1822-1906 on Flickr.
Publication info A Paris: Chez JJ Fuchs, libraire …, 7, 1799-1808 BHL Collections: Smithsonian Libraries

I do love me some sexual selection.
wapiti3:

Natural history of African birds /By Le Vaillant, Francois, 1753-1824 Shelley, GE (George Ernest), 1840-1910 Tristram, HB (Henry Baker), 1822-1906 on Flickr.
Publication info A Paris: Chez JJ Fuchs, libraire …, 7, 1799-1808 BHL Collections: Smithsonian Libraries

I do love me some sexual selection.
wapiti3:

Natural history of African birds /By Le Vaillant, Francois, 1753-1824 Shelley, GE (George Ernest), 1840-1910 Tristram, HB (Henry Baker), 1822-1906 on Flickr.
Publication info A Paris: Chez JJ Fuchs, libraire …, 7, 1799-1808 BHL Collections: Smithsonian Libraries

I do love me some sexual selection.
wapiti3:

Natural history of African birds /By Le Vaillant, Francois, 1753-1824 Shelley, GE (George Ernest), 1840-1910 Tristram, HB (Henry Baker), 1822-1906 on Flickr.
Publication info A Paris: Chez JJ Fuchs, libraire …, 7, 1799-1808 BHL Collections: Smithsonian Libraries

I do love me some sexual selection.
wapiti3:

Natural history of African birds /By Le Vaillant, Francois, 1753-1824 Shelley, GE (George Ernest), 1840-1910 Tristram, HB (Henry Baker), 1822-1906 on Flickr.
Publication info A Paris: Chez JJ Fuchs, libraire …, 7, 1799-1808 BHL Collections: Smithsonian Libraries

I do love me some sexual selection.

wapiti3:

Natural history of African birds /By Le Vaillant, Francois, 1753-1824 Shelley, GE (George Ernest), 1840-1910 Tristram, HB (Henry Baker), 1822-1906 on Flickr.

Publication info A Paris: Chez JJ Fuchs, libraire …, 7, 1799-1808
BHL Collections:
Smithsonian Libraries

I do love me some sexual selection.

A message from Anonymous
When do you handle caught specimens? It seems like a fair number of your photos have you holding wild herps; is that ever dangerous for you or for them? When would you choose not to handle them?

We handle pretty much everything we catch, because our science is based on data gathered from each specimen - length, mass, sex, etc - data that can only be gathered by physical examination.

It is certainly never dangerous to us - we take extreme caution to avoid being bitten by anything, and nothing in Madagascar possesses a venom or a bite of note, except perhaps the boas, and we don’t see many of them, and they are easy to handle safely if you know what you are doing.

I have never been bitten by a snake or a chameleon (the two groups with the nastiest bites in Madagascar), although I have been bitten by many other lizards (Paroedura bastardi  really earns its name) - these things cannot be avoided when you handle hundreds upon hundreds of animals over long periods in the field.

For their own safety, I do not let anyone under my supervision handle snakes unless I have instructed them in safe handling myself, or witnessed them handling a docile snake under my supervision.

Occasionally it is not good for the animals, although we always do our best to reduce stress to the animals and make the process as painless as possible. Frogs, for instance, must be handled with care and cannot be allowed to get too dry during handling if they are to be released. Geckolepis geckos always lose some scales, but they have an astonishing capacity for scale regeneration, so I don’t worry about that. A lot of geckos lose their tails when they are captured or during measurement as well. This is unfortunate, but a necessary risk, and one that does not cost the life of the lizard.

I would choose not to handle an animal if I knew that data gained from it was not worth the stress it might cause. For instance, I would not handle a snake that I had just witnessed eating a meal, because it would be likely to regurgitate it. I would avoid handling gravid animals, although it would be hard to know without palpating in most species. And of course interrupting animals in the act of copulation is a faux-pas, although it is useful to know which is male and which female. But these are exceptions, and in general it is okay to handle the animals.

However I must stress that my handling of the animals is justified because of the research I am conducting, and we observe strict protocols to minimise the risk to ourselves and the animals, including sanitation protocols to avoid spreading diseases. Most parks quite rightly have strict prohibitions against touching animals, and tourists/casual visitors, inside and outside of national parks, should avoid handling animals (both in Madagascar and abroad) as much as possible, to reduce the risk of stress-induced mortality and especially transfer of disease.

thebrainscoop:

okrooart:

I feel bad for not updating regularly these days, so I’ve decided to show what I’ve been working on all this time. As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been hired to draw illustrations for a children’s alphabet book focusing on unusual looking animals. Here is the current state of the illustration for letter “A” (I hesitate to use the word “final draft” because I may decide to fiddle around with colors and edit details later on, buuut this is more or less finished.) I’m currently working on the letter “K”, but for now I think this is a good sample showing where I am! I’m also going to try to upload other art more frequently, so stay tuned.

I met Hilary last week when she came to one of my presentations at The Field Museum. She mentioned to me me that she was working on illustrating a children’s book about animals but she totally undersold herself; this book aims to highlight some less popular but still critically significant animals across their kingdom.

It’s easy for us to say something is ugly, or creepy, if we don’t have a strong understanding or relation to that animal, but our interpretations of what is aesthetically pleasing shouldn’t influence the inclination to support the conservation of many of these species. I’m all for pandas and tigers, but sometimes we need new interpretations in our efforts to raise awareness about conservation for some of the less photogenic lifeforms that are in desperate need of support. That’s why I believe so much in education and encouragement from a young age: we’ve got an entirely new generation that’s going to grow up to appreciate naked mole rats because they’ve been shown to us in a way that is charming, rather than eww check out this gross naked rat, which unfortunately is all too popular. 

Kudos, Hilary! #weevillove

I think this is a really fantastic project. And to contribute to its end, let me highlight a really interesting aspect of Aye-aye ecology that is relevant to my own work in Madagascar!

As you may be aware, aye-ayes are basically the woodpeckers of Madagascar - they go around at night, tapping on trees, chewing open the bark, and fingering deep inside to extract grubs. The absence of Piciformes (woodpeckers and allies) from Madagascar allowed these lemurs to take advantage of an open niche with some unprecedented adaptations, which make them fascinating subjects for study.

However, their role in the ecosystems exceeds the mere collection of grubs and the control of insect numbers in this way. They are also pollinators and also consume fruits, the seeds of which they doubtless distribute across the forest. But this is not the role they play in which I am interested.

The act of making holes in bamboo and other trees in itself opens new niches - the holes can be colonised by a variety of other animals, including centipedes, spiders, and, most excitingly for me, frogs. The resulting holes are often called ‘phytotelms’ when they become partially filled with water; ideal breeding grounds for frogs with non-feeding tadpoles.

Indeed, it seems that there are several tree frogs, mostly belonging to the genus Platypelis in the microhylid subfamily Cophylinae - a group characterised by its non-feeding tadpoles -  which live and breed exclusively inside the hollow trunks of bamboo; a niche they would certainly not be able to access, were it not for the aye-aye’s foraging habits.

Thus, the loss of the aye-aye, which is threatened not just by extensive habitat loss but also by taboo-based prosecution and occasional collection as bushmeat, would in turn potentially mean the disappearance of the varied frog species which rely on their destructive scavenging techniques for their reproduction and survival.

Everything is part of the web. Every species, from the tiny beetle to the flying bat, has its role, though most remain unknown to us. Perturb any part of the system, and the whole thing reels. Cut too many links, and even the most complicated network will collapse.

hyacynthus:

Teensy by Mark Scherz on Flickr.

Madagascar Burrowing Snake (Pararhadinaea melanogaster), taken by our markscherz

I forgot I had caught one of these. They’re extremely secretive snakes. This one was caught in a pitfall trap.

thebrainscoop:

The Brain Scoop:
Crocodiles vs. Alligators 

The order Crocodilia belongs to an ancient group of reptiles that began evolving 83.5 million years ago. To think that such animals can exist largely unchanged for literally millions of years is fascinating and humbling; it’s remarkable to think that such lifeforms can exist within changing environments and continue to persevere. 

This episode was produced, filmed, and edited by Tom McNamara, a new addition to The Brain Scoop’s team. We’re thrilled to have him working with us! He didn’t even pay me much to say that.

TL;DW: Alligators are snub-nosed chub-bunnies and crocodiles are snaggle-toothed snarl-beasts (and gavials and gharials are toothy cigar-faces)

Things I Learned as a Field Biologist #411

evopropinquitous:

The fieldwork don’t matter if you don’t tell people about it. Preferably through a strongly vetted process of statistical inquiry followed by equally strong peer-review. Publications: they’re important.

I know this is not news to any of us in the academic realm, but it may be for those of you out there who are a little less familiar with field biology. ‘Publish or perish’ isn’t just bland pabulum, it’s the truth about any academic endeavor. And so, dear readers, I have been working on my publication record so that you can read the formal findings of my endless hours in the wild, and not just the gross, ridiculous, scary and scatological details (although these are immensely important aspects of the work, too!).

Over the last few months, this blog has been, well, completely silent. I’ve been teaching at a wonderful university, continuing my research at another, and generally been trying to get stuff out. Now, just in time for spring, the fruits of my Tumblr silence are flowering all over the interwebs!

To celebrate this, below are some links to the actual RESULTS of all this fieldwork I’ve done (both current and past)! To continue celebrating this, along with my typical fare you’ve all been so wonderfully positive about, I’ll also begin intermittently posting about the academic outcomes of my fieldwork (and those of others that I find exciting, because my publication record is not - yet - inexhaustible and because there’s a lot of interesting fieldwork going on out there)! And when it’s my own work, I will most definitely be letting you know both the science and the art involved (e.g., exactly how many times I got pooped on and stung to get that glorious sample size…).

For now, here are some quick links to be followed up soon! Huzzah!

Woolly monkey juveniles are adorable and do all sorts of cool things, and it looks like these things may help prepare them for adulthood

Vervet monkeys in The Gambia have high exposure to their version of HIV, but they don’t always get infected: we think we know why…

Vervet monkeys in South Africa (like their researchers) get a lot of parasites, and it looks like WHICH parasites they get depend on a few factors…

Vervet monkeys in South Africa also get their own version of HIV… but where did it come from? How is it transmitted? And how do they not get AIDS from it?  Let me and a few friends tell you more about it…

So you’re a fat monkey?  Ok… maybe it’s in your genes…

MY FAVOURITE BLOG IS BACK. THIS IS IMPORTANT.