Posts Tagged ‘proboscideans’

Peek II

16 March 2010

Getting excited for this.  In the meantime there’s always this.

Gracious God, what a jaw! how many animals have been crushed by it?

24 October 2008

Mammoth Snack – by the inimitable Unforgivable Realness

lowing of death All were killed except one male the fiercest of the race and him even the artillery of the skies assailed in vain He ascended the bluest summit which shades the source of the Monongahela and roaring aloud bid defiance to every vengeance The red lightning scorched the lofty firs and rived the knotty oaks but only glanced upon the enraged monster At length maddened with fury he leaped over the waves of the west at a bound and this moment reigns the uncontroled monarch of the wilderness in despite even of Omnipotence itself MAN 81
Mastodon, Mammoth, and Man By John Patterson MacLean

Because sometimes, ZooBorns just can’t satisfy one’s primal thirst for unicorn blood.  Also, be sure to check out in the future, war is more humane and centaur solutionto a raptor problem (a diptych!).

Afrotheres of the World Unite!

7 February 2008


The recent description of a new species of sengi, Rynchocyon udzungwensis, inspired me to finally complete a project I’ve been talking about for years. Behold: the official Afrotheria logo–soon to be seen on a bumper-sticker or t-shirt near you!

(Note: while the new sengi is freaking huge, tipping the scales at 700g, the animals in the logo are, um, not to scale).

“Gondwanaism and Afrothereists” is the name of a chapter in my book Paleontology After Modernism which will almost certainly never be written.

I ultimately decided not to include the extinct Afrothere lineages Desmostylians and Embrithopods, despite the fact that they are some of my favorite mammals, because I was afraid it would look too crowded, plus my lab-mates were starting to ask questions.

Anyone who can name all seven taxa pictured will win a free t-shirt, once I get around to printing them…

Props to Seth Newsome for the inspiration.

Now I guess I had better get to designing logos for Xenarthra, Laurasiatheria and Euarchontoglires.

Wave Bye-Bye to the Polymath…

17 December 2007

Well, calling Charles Willson Peale a polymath may be rather generous. Then again, if I had run a failed saddle shop, painted some bossy white dudes, and created the first American Natural History Museum, I think I’d probably feel pretty worthy of the title. Anyway, when was the last time you went to a glass harmonica concert or whatever? [well, knowing microecos readers, it was probably last weekend]

At any rate, before we tossed his geriatric remains from the bell jar, I figured it was worth giving the bloke a proper post. Exhumation of the Mastadon [sic] (1806) (pictured above) remains probably the best American painting to date, though some of Richard Estes’ stuff comes close. That is, of course, ol’ Pealey himself in the jacket and slacks. Much, much more Peale info here.

microecos is a rotting peaty wreck.

Milhouse! Lower those eyebrows!

12 December 2007


Bullet-like pieces of what is thought to be an ancient meteorite shower have been found embedded in mammoth tusks and bison bone.

uh, no comment?

Here’s the scoop from Nature News

hat tip – Jessica Oster, and sorry I doubted you.

Genomics and the Incognitum

16 August 2007

Four blind wisemen are examining a skull. The first grasps the tip of the tusk and shouts “it’s a spear!” The second feels the deep concave nasal cavity at the center of the skull and exclaims “no, it’s a cyclops, to be sure!” The third rubs the jagged molar and muses, “cyclopses don’t exist, but surely this was a fearsome carnivore.”

Then the fourth wiseman walks up and lightly taps the tip of the occipital condyle he probes the foramen magnum. Then he draws his finger up and across the low-domed skull and explores the depths of the nasal cavity. He carefully strokes each long conic incisor before moving deeper into jaw.  He traces each cusp and groove along each tooth. After some time, the fourth scientist quietly states, “It’s a proboscidean, specifically an American Mastodon (Mammut americanum) or something like it.”

LOL! Genomics takes the old fable of the blind man and the elephant to heart. Rather than studying genetic information by examining minute bits (like only 10,000 base-pairs or something), or ‘genes’ the genomicists examine entire organimsal genomes, the forest rather than the trees if you’d like (alt. getting complete sets is no mean feat, even from a living organism.

That makes the announcement of the sequencing of an entire Mastodon mitochondrial genome from a tooth wrenched from the Alaskan permafrost totally effing astonishing. And really, really cool. Even better it’s been published in PLoS and is free for all to ponder, ruminate and expound upon.

One application of whole-genome studies is evolutionary comparison between related organisms. In this case, the researchers compared the Mastodon genome with living Asian and African Elephants as well as with the previously published genome similarly ‘back of the freezer’ Mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius). Here’s their tree:

Rohland et al 2007 image links to original, larger version.

The also compared these genomes to elephants’ closest living relatives, Hyraxes and Dugongs (remind me to write about Afrotheria some time…), as well as compared the rate of genetic change in proboscideans with other mammals, including primates.

Snap! (Skull tip to Afarensis)

Hey, what’s that thing by Charles Peale’s foot? A meat grinder? To be continued?