Birds / Herps / Mammals / Science & Research

Endless forms most lyrical

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for simple beginnings that have led to all these endless forms most beautiful and wondrous.

Not that I’m choosing sides in the lumpers vs. splitters war. But can we maybe agree — in this time of mass extinction, worldwide amphibian declines, and bad bat news on the daily — that discoveries of new animals (including fossil finds and a lazarus taxon or two) are awesome news? Remember how excited we were when we discovered Karsenia koreana? (A lungless salamander in Asia, that’s crazy!)

So, I wrote some amateur limericks about new species that were described this year.

journal.pone.0079420.g001

Lythronax argestes (A) compared with Teratophoneus curriei (B)
2013 Loewen et al. PLoS ONE

Lythronax argestes  PLoS ONE

Long before the great T. rex of yore
There lived a hulk called the King of Gore.
Its banana-shaped teeth
Made short work of tough meat
Hail, our oldest known tyrannosaur!

Panthera blytheae  Proceedings of the Royal Society B

There was a big cat from Tibet
Who might be the earliest yet.
The skull excavation
Showed snow leopard’s relation
Could Panthera outrun a Corvette?

Saproscincus saltusCophixalus petrophilusSaltuarius eximius  Zootaxa here, here and here

Among the exposed boulder fields
An Australian lost world long concealed.
A skink on the plateau
Plus a frog and gecko
Are the rainforest’s treasures revealed.

Olinguito at Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador Mark Gurney / Helgen, K. M. et al. ZooKeys

Olinguito at Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador
Mark Gurney / Helgen, K. M. et al. ZooKeys

Bassaricyon neblina  ZooKeys

There was a kitten-like teddy from Ecuador
Folks called it olingo, an Andean carnivore
But they spoke too soon
‘Bout this almost-raccoon
In fact it’s the smaller olinguito. Adorbs!

Scutisorex thori  Biology Letters

Did you know there’re two hero shrews?
And that the silkier one is totally new.
It’s legendary spine
Like Thor, is divine
Cracking tree trunks for larva ragù.

Obdurodon tharalkooschild  Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology

Have you heard of the humongous platy?
With turtle-crushing teeth. So scary!
Some molar remains
Back up these new claims
Do our toothless platypuses envy?

Lateral and ventral view of a female Latonia nigriventer Frank Glaw

Lateral and ventral view of a female Latonia nigriventer
Frank Glaw

Latonia nigriventer  Nature Communications

In the 90s they thought it was gone
But like Lazarus, this frog would live on.
Once miscategorized
They just now recognized
It’s the only living Latonia. Right on!

Bonus: genetically uncharacterized nostril tick  The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

I think there’s a tick in my nose
Some forceps to help me expose
Not in database? Hark!
Was in Ugandan park…
Guess I brought back a passenger in tow.

Bonus oldie-but-a-goodie from 2010: Leviathan melvillei  Nature

Hey Ishmael, call me Leviathan
A long-extinct, whale-eating titan.
In Peru they found it
Desert surrounds it.
With a spermaceti organ for rammin’.

Artist's impression of Leviathan melvillei preying on a baleen whale. C. Letenneur (MNHN)

Artist’s impression of Leviathan melvillei preying on a baleen whale.
C. Letenneur (MNHN)

With rhyming help from Andrew Moseman :)

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