Back in December, I noted the announcement of a new species of raccoon dog (Nyctereutes lockwoodi). The paper is now online and, as we suspected, the species is “[n]amed after the late Charles Lockwood, for his contribution to our knowledge of the genus Australopithecus in South and East Africa as well as his role in the exploration of the morphological temporal trends of A. afarensis in the Hadar Formation.” As it happens, Bill Kimbel and I are currently putting the finishing touches to our final manuscript with Charlie. More of that later, no doubt.
Ref: Gerrads et al., (2010) “Nyctereutes lockwoodi, n. sp., a New Canid (Carnivora: Mammalia) from the Middle Pliocene of Dikika, Lower Awash, Ethiopia.” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30(3):981-987. doi: 10.1080/02724631003758326
Having dissected more mustelids than I care to remember (including decomposing mink), when I saw the photos of the Trout Lake monster (aka “omajinaakoos”), mink was what I thought. And it looks like I was right.
(And while you are at it, add the blog to your feed … the author is a skeptic, a veterinarian, and an inhabitant of Northern Arizona.)
In the past, I have posted on the status of jaguars here in the Southwest borderlands and have highlighted the case of “Macho B”, a 16 year old male captured, tagged and (eventually) euthanized last year. On Friday, Emil McCain, a biologist for the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project (website defunct), pled guilty to intentionally trapping the specimen in violation of the Endangered Species Act. It appears that McCain has previously trapped jaguars in operations that resulted in at least three deaths and previously admitted a lack of training in handling the species. Today, charges were also filed against a technician, Janay Brun.
Update: I’ve just reread the following statement by McCain which he made in April 2009:
Macho B has become an international ambassador for jaguar conservation. As we grieve the great cats very unfortunate death, we must not place blame or let it divide us.
“Unfortunate” in the sense of perhaps caused by McCain’s illegal handling of the animal. It is no wonder he did not want blame to be placed.
(image source – Stanford University)
Update (4/24): The Arizona Republic is reporting that a cat killed east of the Phoenix metro area may be an ocelot. If so, the specimen was a significant distance from the border. AZGFD statement is here.
Update (5/18): Cute though the above photo is, it’s not of the actual ocelot seen in Cochise County. Here is that photo.
Last year I cover the story of “Macho B”, the sixteen year old male jaguar that was tagged, re-captured and eventually euthanized here in Arizona. A report by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General has appeared which states there is evidence that the capture of the cat was probably intentional and violated the Endangered Species Act. Throughout, the Arizona Game & Fish has claimed that the capture was accidental.
From the California Academy of Sciences:
This year, [Zeray] Alemseged and his colleagues report the only new mammal species on the Academy’s list: a raccoon dog (Nyctereutes lockwoodi) from 3.3 million years ago. Described from a nearly complete skull and fragments of others, this small, omnivorous mammal is a member of the canid family, which includes dogs, wolves, and foxes. Fossil raccoon dogs have been uncovered throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa, but only one species remains today (N. procyonoides, native to East Asia). This extant species gets its common name from its raccoon-like coloring but is not closely related to raccoons—its closest living relatives are thought to be foxes. It forms monogamous pair bonds and is the only member of the dog family to hibernate in the winter.
(HT to Afarensis who notes that the species is probably named after my late buddy and collaborator, Charlie Lockwood. As I haven’t seen the paper – apparently in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology – I cannot confirm that).
After seeing these photos, I ran into the video above. As the YouTube blurb explains:
National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen shares the incredible story of his personal encounter with a predatory leopard seal in the frigid waters of the Antarctic. These photographs–and many more–appear in his book, Polar Obsession. Available at
Amazing stuff. I guess I never realized how big Leopard Seals actually are.
(HT to Zooillogix)
I post this story just because African Hunting Dogs are my favorite animal … and also that of my daughter who in summer 2008 helped make enrichment feeders for the three males here at the Phoenix Zoo. Mother gives birth to nine pups and unfortunately dies – a surrogate named “Honey” takes over. Here’s hoping the pups – who normally have a 50% mortality in captivity – can make it through.
Lion, Panthera leo L.
And with that we bring our Friday Felid feature to an end. In a few weeks I will unveil a new series. Feel free to make suggestions about taxa you’d like to see being featured.