Genus: Platybelodon

…an extinct genus of mammals related to elephants that lived in Miocene Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. Like other gomphotheres Platybelodon sported two unusualy shovel-like teeth. Platybelodon probably used these teeth to strip-bark from trees, using its inscisors as a scythe, grasping branches with its trunk and rubbing them agianst its teeth to cut them.



Images: Tomasz Jedrzejowski and Leonard G.


One of these things is not like the other…

First row: Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) skeleton
Second row: Hooded seal (Cystopkora cristata) skeleton
Third row: Dugong (Dugong dugon) skeleton, Brazilian sea lion (Otaria flavescens) skeleton.

*Skulls depicted are of species in the same genus as the skeleton.

Sirenia (manatees, dugongs, and sea cows) and Pinnipedia (the seals, walruses, and sea lions) are often seen as very similar, but they came from very different lineages.

While both came from land mammals (just like all sea mammals), the pinnipeds evolved from a bear-like ancestor, who returned to the sea around 28 MYA. They’re Caniformidae, or dog-like Carnivora.

The sirens evolved from the same ancestor as the hyraxes and elephants, and returned to the sea around 50 MYA. They’re only distantly related to Cetaceans and Pinnipeds.

Vergleicheende Osteologie. Edward D'alton, 1821.


Reeves’s Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)

is a species of Muntjac (an group of “ancient” deer) Native to China and Taiwan, with populations introduced in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Like most Muntjacs they are fairly small with adults only growing up to 3 feet long and 1 foot high. Like most Asian deer though they have both antlers and “fangs” which they use in defense. They are also known for their distinctive barking sound.



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Bay Cat (Catopuma badia)

Also known as the Bornean cat, or Bornean marbled cat, the bay cat is a species of wild cat (Felinae) which is endemic to the island of Borneo, where it is relatively rare. Like many other cat species, bay cats are nocturnal and secretive. Due to this not much is known about bay cat biology and ecology, however they are known to feed on medium sized vertebrates. 

Currently Catopuma badia is listed as endangered on the IUCN red list as it faces threats from deforestation and habitat destruction.


Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Carnivora-Feliformia-Felidae-Felinae-Catopuma-C. badia

Image: Jim Sanderson


Red and White Giant Flying Squirrel | ©Dan Doucette

Petaurista alborufus (Sciuridae) is the largest species of giant squirrel (over 1m from head to tail) and has piercing blue eyes. This species inhabits dense montane forest, limestone cliffs and conifer forests, and it is only found in China.

The specimen shown was photographed in the Foping Nature Reserve, situated in the Qinling Mountains, in Shaanxi Province, China.

Want to see the incredible flight of this squirrel? watch this video. Worth it!

Indian Pangolin - Manis crassicaudata

Indian pangolin eating a snack of ants on a log in the Berlin Zoo.

Like all pangolins, the Indian pangolin is almost exclusively insectivorous. Despite the adaptability of this species (it’s able to live from high altitudes, to deserts, to the wettest rainforests), it’s currently facing endangerment due to being poached for traditional Chinese “medicine”.

Brehms Tierleben: Allgemeine Kunde des Tierreichs. Prof. Dr. Otto zur Strassen, 1915.

Red and white giant flying squirrel

The spectacular Petaurista alborufus (Sciuridae) in “flight”. 

This large flying squirrel from Asia (China and Taiwan) has beautiful blue eyes, as you can see in this earlier post.

Photo credit: ©Will Burrard-Lucas

Locality: Qinling Mountains, China 

Red-bellied (or Tasmanian) Pademelon, Thylogale billardierii.

This individual, clearly elderly, deaf and nearly blind, knew I was on the track nearby, but didn’t know what I was. It came up very, very close, slowly, until it was able to sniff my boot. It then left unhurriedly. Ah, Tasmania.

Knocklofty Reserve, Tasmania.


Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus)

…is a small species of tenrec found throughout eastern and northern Madagascar. Like other tenrec species the lowland streaked tenrec is mostly nocturnal hunting for earthworms and insects under the cover of darkness. When threatened this tenrec can erect its quills forward and will attempt to drive them into its attacker. When foraging the lowland streaked tenrec is often found in small family groups that communicate with each other by vibrating the spines on their middle of their backs. They are the only recorded mammal to communicate via this method known as stridulation.



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