Meet the Common, But Beautiful Scarlet Kingsnake

by Richard Bartlett

The first time I ever saw a scarlet kingsnake, Lampropeltis (triangulum) elapsoides, I was in northern Georgia herping with Gordy Johnston.

On our way to Florida, we had stopped at a small patch of recently burned pine woodlands as much as for a break in the driving as for actually herping. We checked the environs of a small soot-edged pond, seeing only a southern leopard frog or two. Along the way we rolled a log now and again, finding first a slimy salamander and then absolutely nothing under the next several…

(read more: Kingsnake.com)

photos by Richard Bartlett

Siberian Discovery Suggests Almost All Dinosaurs Were Feathered
Jurassic fossils may mean that feathers were all in the family.
by Dan Vergano
Almost all dinosaurs were probably covered in feathers, Siberian fossils of a tufted, two-legged running dinosaur dating from roughly 160 million years ago suggest.
Over the past two decades, discoveries in China have produced at least five species of feathered dinosaurs. But they all belonged to the theropod group of “raptor” dinosaurs, ancestors of modern birds. 
Now in a discovery reported by an international team in the journal Science, the new dinosaur species, Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, suggests that feathers were all in the family. That’s because the newly unearthed 4.5-ft-long (1.5 m) two-legged runner was an “ornithischian” beaked dinosaur, belonging to a group ancestrally distinct from past theropod discoveries…
(read more: National Geographic)
illustration by Andrey Atuchin

Siberian Discovery Suggests Almost All Dinosaurs Were Feathered

Jurassic fossils may mean that feathers were all in the family.

by Dan Vergano

Almost all dinosaurs were probably covered in feathers, Siberian fossils of a tufted, two-legged running dinosaur dating from roughly 160 million years ago suggest.

Over the past two decades, discoveries in China have produced at least five species of feathered dinosaurs. But they all belonged to the theropod group of “raptor” dinosaurs, ancestors of modern birds.

Now in a discovery reported by an international team in the journal Science, the new dinosaur species, Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, suggests that feathers were all in the family. That’s because the newly unearthed 4.5-ft-long (1.5 m) two-legged runner was an “ornithischian” beaked dinosaur, belonging to a group ancestrally distinct from past theropod discoveries…

(read more: National Geographic)

illustration by Andrey Atuchin

Reptile Robbery: Why Poachers Are Wiping Out Ontario’s Turtles
International pet collectors have devastated all eight turtle species in the Canadian province.
by John R. Platt
Ontario’s once plentiful turtles are rapidly disappearing as poachers grab the reptiles for sale on the international pet trade market.
Some turtle populations in the province have completely vanished over the past decade. “My turtles are gone,” Jacqueline Litzgus, a spotted turtle researcher, told the The Canadian Press last week.
Most of the turtles end up for sale in pet shops in Asia and Europe, even though international trade in many turtle species is illegal, said Eric Goode, founder and president of the Turtle Conservancy.
“I went to Tokyo in 2002 and did a survey looking for endangered turtles and other reptiles and animals,” he said. “I was shocked. North American turtles were in all the pet stores.”…
(read more: TakePart)
photograph by Kevin Stohlgren

Reptile Robbery: Why Poachers Are Wiping Out Ontario’s Turtles

International pet collectors have devastated all eight turtle species in the Canadian province.

by John R. Platt

Ontario’s once plentiful turtles are rapidly disappearing as poachers grab the reptiles for sale on the international pet trade market.

Some turtle populations in the province have completely vanished over the past decade. “My turtles are gone,” Jacqueline Litzgus, a spotted turtle researcher, told the The Canadian Press last week.

Most of the turtles end up for sale in pet shops in Asia and Europe, even though international trade in many turtle species is illegal, said Eric Goode, founder and president of the Turtle Conservancy.

“I went to Tokyo in 2002 and did a survey looking for endangered turtles and other reptiles and animals,” he said. “I was shocked. North American turtles were in all the pet stores.”…

(read more: TakePart)

photograph by Kevin Stohlgren

libutron
libutron:

Olive House Snake
Boaedon olivaceus (Lamprophiidae) is a species of House snake native to west and central Africa, with a complex taxonomic history, which until 2011 was assigned to the widespread genus Lamprophis.
Olive House Snakes are small, non venomous colubrids sexually dimorphic in that females grow significantly larger than males (Males 50 - 70cm and females 70 - 100cm). The name “House Snake” was given as they are often found around houses and other buildings looking for food.
References: [1] - [2] - [3]
Photo credit: ©Konrad Mebert | Locality: Banalia-Longala, Democratic Republic of the Congo

libutron:

Olive House Snake

Boaedon olivaceus (Lamprophiidae) is a species of House snake native to west and central Africa, with a complex taxonomic history, which until 2011 was assigned to the widespread genus Lamprophis.

Olive House Snakes are small, non venomous colubrids sexually dimorphic in that females grow significantly larger than males (Males 50 - 70cm and females 70 - 100cm). The name “House Snake” was given as they are often found around houses and other buildings looking for food.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Konrad Mebert | Locality: Banalia-Longala, Democratic Republic of the Congo

TSA Turtle Tuesday: Narrow-bridged Musk Turtle
The small and agile narrow-bridged musk turtle (Claudius angustatus) is endemic to southern Mexico and northern Central America. Its relatively large head has very powerful jaws and pointed beak making it well adapted for its varied diet. An opportunistic carnivore, it eats all kinds of accessible prey types including fish, frogs, newts, snails, earthworms, insects and larvae. With its long neck and hooked lower jaw, the narrow-bridged mud turtle is a formidable hunter! 
Photo by James Harding
(via: Turtle Survival Alliance)

TSA Turtle Tuesday: Narrow-bridged Musk Turtle

The small and agile narrow-bridged musk turtle (Claudius angustatus) is endemic to southern Mexico and northern Central America. Its relatively large head has very powerful jaws and pointed beak making it well adapted for its varied diet. An opportunistic carnivore, it eats all kinds of accessible prey types including fish, frogs, newts, snails, earthworms, insects and larvae. With its long neck and hooked lower jaw, the narrow-bridged mud turtle is a formidable hunter!

Photo by James Harding

(via: Turtle Survival Alliance)

Cleveland Metropark Zoo Working to Help Threatened Spotted Turtles
by Jean Bonechak
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and a Northeast Ohio park district are working in tandem to ensure the limited spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) population in Ohio doesn’t disappear.
The reptile is on the state’s threatened species list and without intervention might become endangered.
“If we don’t do something about it they may disappear in 10 years,” said Paul Pira, a Geauga Park District biologist.
Though not threatened in other areas of the U.S., the prevalence of spotted turtles in the northeastern states and Canada is extremely limited.
The species, which is naturally slow to mature and reproduce, also is the victim of predators, especially raccoons. A loss of its preferred wetlands habitat coupled with an illegal pet trade adds to the creatures’ scarcity…
(read more: Morning Journal)

Cleveland Metropark Zoo Working to Help Threatened Spotted Turtles

by Jean Bonechak

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and a Northeast Ohio park district are working in tandem to ensure the limited spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) population in Ohio doesn’t disappear.

The reptile is on the state’s threatened species list and without intervention might become endangered.

“If we don’t do something about it they may disappear in 10 years,” said Paul Pira, a Geauga Park District biologist.

Though not threatened in other areas of the U.S., the prevalence of spotted turtles in the northeastern states and Canada is extremely limited.

The species, which is naturally slow to mature and reproduce, also is the victim of predators, especially raccoons. A loss of its preferred wetlands habitat coupled with an illegal pet trade adds to the creatures’ scarcity…

(read more: Morning Journal)

reptilefacts
libutron:

Black-headed python
The distinctive Black-headed python, Aspidites melanocephalus (Pythonidae), does indeed have a black head and neck, which contrasts strongly with the brown banding along its body. The banding is light to dark brown or orange-brown on a base that can be creamy white, light brown and occasionally even yellow (as shown in the photo).
It is a large python (up to 250 cm length), endemic to Australia, found in Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.
Etymology: Aspidites means ‘shield-bearer’, referring to the large scales on the head; and melanocephalus means ’black-headed’.
References: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: ©Jordan Vos
Locality: Australia

libutron:

Black-headed python

The distinctive Black-headed python, Aspidites melanocephalus (Pythonidae), does indeed have a black head and neck, which contrasts strongly with the brown banding along its body. The banding is light to dark brown or orange-brown on a base that can be creamy white, light brown and occasionally even yellow (as shown in the photo).

It is a large python (up to 250 cm length), endemic to Australia, found in Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.

Etymology: Aspidites means ‘shield-bearer’, referring to the large scales on the head; and melanocephalus means ’black-headed’.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Jordan Vos

Locality: Australia

paleobiology
ewilloughby:

Changyuraptor yangi is a newly-described microraptorine dromaeosaur dinosaur from the early Cretaceous (Yixian formation) of Liaoning, China.
The animal would have been around 4 feet long in life, and its fossil shows that it was covered in feathers — including, as in its smaller cousin Microraptor, a pair of “leg wings” represented by long paired pennaceous feathers on the metatarsals and tibiotarsus. One of Changyuraptor's most unique features is its voluminous tail feathers, and these feathers constitute the longest of any known non-avian dinosaur, with the most distal retrices reaching around 30 cm in length.
Changyuraptor is also by far the largest “four-winged” dinosaur known, and while this might not be as big of a deal as it sounds (given that there aren’t very many “four-winged” dinosaurs), it does show that small size wasn’t necessarily the gatekeeper to certain volant adaptations. I personally doubt that this animal was doing anything approaching powered flight, but the long tail feathers and multiple sets of long, well-developed lifting surfaces may have been a boon to gliding and controlled descent. The exceptionally long tail feathers therefore might have been used as a sort of “pitch control” device, wherein a large, relatively heavy animal would have needed especially fine-tuned control over rapid falls onto prey or in safe landings from higher ground. As Buzz Lightyear would say, “This isn’t flying, it’s falling with style!”
—
Gouache paint on A3-size hot-pressed illustration board, approx. 5-6 hours.
Gang Han et al. 2014. “A new raptorial dinosaur with exceptionally long feathering provides insights into dromaeosaurid flight performance”. Nature Communications. 5: 4382.

ewilloughby:

Changyuraptor yangi is a newly-described microraptorine dromaeosaur dinosaur from the early Cretaceous (Yixian formation) of Liaoning, China.

The animal would have been around 4 feet long in life, and its fossil shows that it was covered in feathers — including, as in its smaller cousin Microraptor, a pair of “leg wings” represented by long paired pennaceous feathers on the metatarsals and tibiotarsus. One of Changyuraptor's most unique features is its voluminous tail feathers, and these feathers constitute the longest of any known non-avian dinosaur, with the most distal retrices reaching around 30 cm in length.

Changyuraptor is also by far the largest “four-winged” dinosaur known, and while this might not be as big of a deal as it sounds (given that there aren’t very many “four-winged” dinosaurs), it does show that small size wasn’t necessarily the gatekeeper to certain volant adaptations. I personally doubt that this animal was doing anything approaching powered flight, but the long tail feathers and multiple sets of long, well-developed lifting surfaces may have been a boon to gliding and controlled descent. The exceptionally long tail feathers therefore might have been used as a sort of “pitch control” device, wherein a large, relatively heavy animal would have needed especially fine-tuned control over rapid falls onto prey or in safe landings from higher ground. As Buzz Lightyear would say, “This isn’t flying, it’s falling with style!”

Gouache paint on A3-size hot-pressed illustration board, approx. 5-6 hours.

Gang Han et al. 2014. “A new raptorial dinosaur with exceptionally long feathering provides insights into dromaeosaurid flight performance”. Nature Communications. 5: 4382.

libutron
libutron:

Asian Racer (Coin-Marked Snake)
Originally described from Egypt, Hemorrhois nummifer (Colubridae), the commonly named Asian Racer, has a wide distribution in Turkey, Cyprus, countries of the Near and Middle East such as Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, countries of central Asia such as Kyrgyzstan, E Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan, and Sinai.
References: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: ©cowyeow | Locality: Mount Carmel National Park, Haifa, Israel

libutron:

Asian Racer (Coin-Marked Snake)

Originally described from Egypt, Hemorrhois nummifer (Colubridae), the commonly named Asian Racer, has a wide distribution in Turkey, Cyprus, countries of the Near and Middle East such as Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, countries of central Asia such as Kyrgyzstan, E Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan, and Sinai.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©cowyeow | Locality: Mount Carmel National Park, Haifa, Israel

After being stuck inside most of the day, because of the rains, I got to take the kids in my North American Wildlife camp outside today for a post-rain hike, in the park where I work in Houston, TX. Amongst other cool animals, we encountered this gorgeous male Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis) walking amongst the fallen leaves under a live oak. He’s got to be one of the biggest Three-toed box turtles I’ve seen in years. :3