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NEWS ON PACHYOPHIID SNAKES, ETC.
Some new stuff I encountered while foraging...
Hedenstrom, A. 1999. How birds become airborne. _Trends in Ecology
and Evolution_ 14: 375-6.
Is inspired by Garner et al's recent paper on the 'leaping predator
theory' (my main problem is their reliance on _Caudipteryx_ as a step
in the transitory sequence - if, as many of us think, _Caudipteryx_
is not a close relative of birds, its use in the scenario is
erroneous). Ref for this, incidentally, is _Proc. R. Soc. London B_
Lee, M. S. Y., Caldwell, M. W. and Scanlon, J. D. 1999. A second
primitive marine snake: _Pachyophis woodwardi_ from the Cretaceous of
Bosnia-Herzegovina_. _Journal of Zoology_ 248: 509-520.
According to the authors, the first look at this basal snake since
Nopsca described it in 1923. Close similarities to _Pachyrhachis_
result in the creation of a new basal snake clade, the Pachyophiidae.
_Pachyophis_ is even more aquatically adapted with denser bones, a
more laterally compressed body and more teeth (all the better to
catch fishies with).
Other stuff in recent _J. Zool._ that may be of interest to some is a
fantastic paper on cranial morphology (soft and hard tissues) of
giant anteaters (following Tom Holtz's recent considerations of where
xenarthrans fit in the 'new' therian tree and just how one calculates
the mass of extinct xenarthrans and pangolins, perhaps we should set
up a xenarthran-pangolin discussion group:)). AND two impressive
works on social behaviour, ecophysiology and ecology of the
_Cordylus_ lizards. Look for an armadillo zonure with its tail in its
mouth (it's on the cover).
While on the subject of lizards, varanids do not, strictly speaking,
vocalise to my knowledge (the only exception is a _V. niloticus_ that
calls loudly on Degoba - - Star Wars fans will know what I am talking
about. The call was certainly dubbed in afterwards). However, they do
do a lot of huffing, puffing and hissing - the last time I spoke
about this issue with the lizard experts they were careful to
distinguish the two (huffing, puffing and hissing is just loud
exhalation, and not true vocalisation).
WWD: have already read the book and have three of the animals
used in the series sitting in an office downstairs (an
ornithocheirid, _Ophthalmosaurus_ and the temnospondyl
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