strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

  • Richard Conniff

  • Reviews for Richard Conniff’s Books

    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

  • Wall of the Dead

  • Categories

  • Advertisements

Sea Monster Discovered

Posted by Richard Conniff on January 28, 2013

Tyrannoneustus lythrodectikos

Sorry, to run this back to back with that alarming photo of the leopard seal about to sink its teeth into a penguin.  Happily for us, though, this new monster is a fossil, discovered in a Scottish museum–a reminder of the riches such natural history museums still contain.  Here’s The Guardian’s account:

A creature resembling a hybrid dolphin and crocodile has been identified by scientists examining fossil remains discovered more than a century ago.

The new species, named Tyrannoneustes lythrodectikos, was a marine “super-predator” that lived 163 million years ago. It belonged to a group of ancient crocodiles with dolphin-like features.

An amateur fossil hunter found the reptile’s partial skeleton in a clay pit near Peterborough in the early 1900s. Experts have only now been able to confirm the identity of the remains, housed at the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow.

The animal had pointed, serrated teeth and a large gaping jaw suited to feeding on large-bodied prey. It represents a transitional form between marine crocodiles that fed on small prey and their supersized relatives.

Dr Mark Young, from the University of Edinburgh, said: “It is satisfying to be able to classify a specimen that has been unexamined for more than 100 years, and doubly so to find that this discovery improves our understanding of the evolution of marine reptiles.”

Dr Neil Clark, palaeontology curator at the Hunterian, said: “Little research has been done on this specimen since it was first listed in 1919. It is comforting to know that new species can still be found in museums as new research is carried out on old collections.

“It is not just the new species that are important, but an increase in our understanding of how life evolved and the variety of life forms that existed 163 million years ago in the warm Jurassic seas around what is now Britain.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s