Taxidermy Tuesday : Imperfect Subjunctive

12 January 2010

Stuffed Tuatara at the Zoologisches Museum‎, Zurich Switzerland

Not too much to say about this little guy that you don’t already know.

Tuatara against all reasonable common sense and decency, are not lizards.  They are savage, filthy old lechers that have been on a long slow slide toward extinction since their Mesozoic heyday.  First they made the questionable call of trying to tough it out on a sinking continent.  Then the rats came.

Apparently, the Tuatara bite is “something to be avoided.

In spite of their surprisingly rapid molecular ‘evolution’, and some heroic conservation efforts, Tuatara are pretty much doomed in the long run. When the last one dies it will be the close of a great semi-interesting 220 million year long chapter of reptile evolution.  That said, some of the individuals being born in captivity right now will likely outlive you and me.

Not this guy though, he’s straight up dead.

Incidentally, I suppose “Brückenechse” works out to something like “bridge lizard” in German? As in “bridge between lizards and other reptiles” (not really true, but poetic)? Or perhaps more likely, a reference to the lower temporal bar (something that lizards lack)?

“Tatuara” on the other hand is just a typo I guess.  It is also the first person imperfect subjunctive form of tatuar [= to tattoo] in Spanish.  As in,  Si tatuara ese lagarto del puente en mi asno, tendría probablemente más amigos.

2 Responses to “Taxidermy Tuesday : Imperfect Subjunctive”

  1. Marc Says:

    You might be interested in these references:

    Jones MEH. 2008. Skull shape and feeding strategy in Sphenodon and other Rhynchocephalia (Diapsida: Lepidosauria). Journal of Morphology. 269: 945–-966. DOI: 10.1002/jmor.10634

    Jones MEH, Curtis N, O’Higgins P, Fagan M, Evans SE. 2009. Head and neck muscles associated with feeding in Sphenodon (Reptilia: Lepidsauria: Rhynchocephalia). Palaeontologia Electronica 12 (2, 7A): 1–56.

    Jones MEH, Lappin AK. 2009. Bite-force performance of the last rhynchocephalian (Lepidosauria: Sphenodon). Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 39(3): 71–83.

    Incidentally the lower temporal bar is not a primitive feature with respect to lizard. All currently evidence indicates the common ancestor of Squamata (lizards and snakes and their fossil relatives) and Rhynchocephalia (tuatara and their fossil relatives) lacked a lower temporal bar. This has been known since at least 1986 but text books have been very slow to take note of this.

    • Neil Says:

      Wow. Thanks for stopping by Marc. I was vaguely aware of complex evolutionary history of the lower temporal bar among diapsids, thanks for clarifying.

      Sorry about trash talking tuatara by the way…I really wasn’t expecting YOU to turn up.

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