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Bushmanland Tent Tortoise - Psammobates tentorius verroxii
Tent tortoises are amazing creatures with beautiful geometric patterns in the domed carapace that resembles bedouin tents. Among them, Psammobates tentorius verroxii (Testudinidae), with up to 145 mm in length, comes in a bewildering range of shapes and colors.
The Bushmanland Tent Tortoise often has the carapace uniformly russet or dark brown, but usually patterned with darker brown rays. The “Knoppies” (tents or raised scutes) are rarely developed, the shell is low, smooth and rounded.
This subspecies occurs and is widespread in South Africa and Namibia, however it remains among the most poorly known of the subcontinent’s tortoises.
Reference: [1]
Photo credit: ©cowyeow | Locality: Near Jagersberg, South Africa (2007)

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Bushmanland Tent Tortoise - Psammobates tentorius verroxii

Tent tortoises are amazing creatures with beautiful geometric patterns in the domed carapace that resembles bedouin tents. Among them, Psammobates tentorius verroxii (Testudinidae), with up to 145 mm in length, comes in a bewildering range of shapes and colors.

The Bushmanland Tent Tortoise often has the carapace uniformly russet or dark brown, but usually patterned with darker brown rays. The “Knoppies” (tents or raised scutes) are rarely developed, the shell is low, smooth and rounded.

This subspecies occurs and is widespread in South Africa and Namibia, however it remains among the most poorly known of the subcontinent’s tortoises.

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: ©cowyeow | Locality: Near Jagersberg, South Africa (2007)

Herp Adventures in SE Arizona

Recently, friend of the blog, herpetologist, and naturalist, Robert Anthony Villa went on a herping trip to a mixed desert-grassland area in South East Arizona Here are some awesome photos of a few of the things he saw…

1 & 2 - Mexican Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon kennerlyi)

3 - Western Green Toad (Bufo [Anaxyrus] debilis)

4 - California Kingsnake (Lapropeltis californiae)

5 - Black-headed Snake (Tantilla nigriceps)

6 - Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)

cool-critters

cool-critters:

Spiny turtle (Heosemys spinosa)

The spiny turtle is known from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Sadly this species is highly endangered!

It inhabits lowland and hill rainforest, usually in the vicinity of small streams, mainly in hill areas up to 900 m above sea level.

Mating behaviour appears to be triggered by rain; in captivity, spraying males with water results in them chasing females and attempting to mount. Nothing is known of nesting behaviour in the wild.

photo credits: zooborns, myviadventures

metazoa-etcetera

wapiti3:

Natural history of the animal kingdom: in three parts, comprising…

I. Mammalia : II. Birds : Part III. Reptiles, amphibia, fishes, insects, worms, molluscs, zoophytes

By Kirby, W. F. (William Forsell), 1844-1912 
Mearns, Edgar Alexander, 1856-1916 
Schubert, Gotthilf Heinrich von, 1780-1860 

Publication info Brighton :E. & J.B. Young and Co.,1889; BHL Collections: Smithsonian Libraries

Birds Under Threat From Brown Tree Snake in Marianas
The Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons mariae), a rare species found on Rota, Northern Mariana Islands, is one of the #birds at risk from brown tree snakes, which have devastated bird populations on Guam. Efforts to safeguard the Marianas’ remaining native birds, such as snake trapping and translocations of birds to islands without snakes, are underway. 
Read more: Yahoo News
(via: American Bird Conservancy)
Photograph by Jack Jeffrey

Birds Under Threat From Brown Tree Snake in Marianas

The Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons mariae), a rare species found on Rota, Northern Mariana Islands, is one of the #birds at risk from brown tree snakes, which have devastated bird populations on Guam. Efforts to safeguard the Marianas’ remaining native birds, such as snake trapping and translocations of birds to islands without snakes, are underway.

Read more: Yahoo News

(via: American Bird Conservancy)

Photograph by Jack Jeffrey

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Radiated Tortoise - Astrochelys radiata
Now listed as Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red Lit, Astrochelys radiata (Testudinidae), endemic to the spiny forest of southern Madagascar, had virtually never been studied in the wild until the late 1990s.
Recent research projects and surveys have contributed to defining the extent of the decline of the species, and it now appears that A. radiata faces serious extinction risks unless current trends are halted.
This species is heavily harvested for food and for the pet trade. In wild mature females of this species produce up to three clutches per season with only 1–5 eggs per clutch, leading to an estimated average production of two clutches of four eggs each per breeding female.
References: [1] - [2] - [3]
Photo credit: ©Bernard Dupont | Locality: Toliara, Madagascar (2013)

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Radiated Tortoise - Astrochelys radiata

Now listed as Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red Lit, Astrochelys radiata (Testudinidae), endemic to the spiny forest of southern Madagascar, had virtually never been studied in the wild until the late 1990s.

Recent research projects and surveys have contributed to defining the extent of the decline of the species, and it now appears that A. radiata faces serious extinction risks unless current trends are halted.

This species is heavily harvested for food and for the pet trade. In wild mature females of this species produce up to three clutches per season with only 1–5 eggs per clutch, leading to an estimated average production of two clutches of four eggs each per breeding female.

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

Photo credit: ©Bernard Dupont | Locality: Toliara, Madagascar (2013)

Hey New Englanders: Baby Turtle Search and Release
Sponsored by Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (Cape Cod, MA)
Sat, Sep 13, 2014 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Pre-registration required
In early September, turtle hatchlings come out of their eggshells. We’ll start with a story, then walk through several habitats at the sanctuary, hoping to see young turtles emerging from their nests or crawling on the trails, and possibly even aid in their release. We may see baby box turtles in the field, painted turtles at the pond, and diamondback terrapins in the salt marsh. Everyone will make a turtle craft to take home…
(read more: Mass Audubon)

Hey New Englanders: Baby Turtle Search and Release

Sponsored by Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (Cape Cod, MA)

Sat, Sep 13, 2014 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Pre-registration required

In early September, turtle hatchlings come out of their eggshells. We’ll start with a story, then walk through several habitats at the sanctuary, hoping to see young turtles emerging from their nests or crawling on the trails, and possibly even aid in their release. We may see baby box turtles in the field, painted turtles at the pond, and diamondback terrapins in the salt marsh. Everyone will make a turtle craft to take home…

(read more: Mass Audubon)

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Red-headed Krait - Bungarus flaviceps
The Red-headed Krait, Bungarus flaviceps (Elapidae), is a rare and highly venomous species which inhabits forested lowlands, hills and lower montane areas below 900 meters elevation, in southern Burma, southern Thailand, parts of Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia), Peninsular Malaysia and the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Java.
Kraits (Bungarus species) are one of the better studied snakes of the world because they are highly venomous. β-bungarotoxin is one of the major lethal components found in the venom of Bungarus species. It targets the pre-synaptic terminal, where it causes the massive release of acetylcholine resulting in subsequent exhaustion of acetylcholine and inability to conduct an impulse and finally, paralysis. The venom of B. flaviceps is more potent than B. fasciatus but comparable in potency to B. candidus venom.
References: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: ©N. Weigner | Locality: Borneo (2014)

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Red-headed Krait - Bungarus flaviceps

The Red-headed Krait, Bungarus flaviceps (Elapidae), is a rare and highly venomous species which inhabits forested lowlands, hills and lower montane areas below 900 meters elevation, in southern Burma, southern Thailand, parts of Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia), Peninsular Malaysia and the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Java.

Kraits (Bungarus species) are one of the better studied snakes of the world because they are highly venomous. β-bungarotoxin is one of the major lethal components found in the venom of Bungarus species. It targets the pre-synaptic terminal, where it causes the massive release of acetylcholine resulting in subsequent exhaustion of acetylcholine and inability to conduct an impulse and finally, paralysis. The venom of B. flaviceps is more potent than B. fasciatus but comparable in potency to B. candidus venom.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©N. Weigner | Locality: Borneo (2014)

How To Recycle an Ichthyosaur

by Brian Switek

Whales have very active afterlives. Once they settle on the ocean bottom, their bodies become both food and shelter for a host of different organisms – an oasis of bone and rotting flesh called a whalefall. But whales aren’t the only animals to have enriched the seafloor. During the Late Jurassic, over 90 million years before whales even existed, the bodies of aquatic reptiles called ichthyosaurs hosted a vibrant succession of marine life.

This week, Plymouth University paleontologist Silvia Danise and colleagues have described the ichthyosaur fall in Nature Communications. This isn’t the first time paleontologists have reported such a community. In 2008, Andrzej Kaim and coauthors described a pair of roughly 89 million year old plesiosaurs associated with snails that make their living in ephemeral undersea habitats. But the unfortunate ichthyosaur adds something new. The geologically older marine reptile underwent a slightly different trajectory during its breakdown…

(read more: Laelaps - National Geographic)

photo by Brian Switek