richard-owen

Forearm of Giant Armadillo - Dasypus gigas (now Priodontes maximus)

Look at those crazy claws! The giant armadillo actually walks on that third digit. Though it walks “normally” on its hind legs, the fore-body weight rests on just those two giant scratchers. They developed that way to help the armadillo dig, but apparently they work for walking on, too…what happens if they break a nail?

  • Nomenclature (obsolete):
  1. Dasypus - From Ancient Greek dasupous, meaning “rough-foot” - though the -pus in the genus name can be elucidated to mean “foot,” das(y/u)- is not a commonly-used prefix and is not listed in most Greek/Latin root references.
  2. (Dasypus) gigas - Gigas - from the Ancient Greek gigas, meaning “giant”. However, gigas CURRENTLY means “a billion.” When the name of the genus was changed in the 1950s, the species name was changed, too, as the currently-accepted definition of gigas was no longer appropriate.
  3. Dasypus gigas - “Giant Rough-Foot”
  • Nomenclature (current):
  1. Priodontes: Prio - from the Latin prior - “before”, -dontes, from dent/dont, “tooth” - so Prio - dontes means “before teeth” - refers to the fact that the genus is completely toothless.
  2. (Priodontes) maximus: Maximus - from Latin maximum - “greatest, largest”, which is the superlative form of magnum - “great, large”.
  3. Priodontes maximus = “Largest before teeth”

On the Anatomy of Vertebrates: Vol II - Birds and Mammals. Richard Owen, 1866.

Sometimes the future changes quickly and completely, and we’re left with only the choice of what to do next. We can choose to be afraid of it, to stand there trembling not moving, assuming the worst that can happen or we step forward into the unknown and assume it will be brilliant.
—  Cristina Yang.

May I introduce Richard Owen, prominent 19th century scientist extraordinaire and Darwin’s arch enemy. Seriously though, just look at those cheekbones and ‘come hither’ stare! This fine man was an influential naturalist and comparative anatomist, most famous for founding the British Museum of Natural History which we know today, making science accessible to the British public from 1881 onwards. He also first used the term 'dinosauria’ which we use as dinosaur today. His many scientific accomplishments are usually overshadowed by Darwin’s work yet he is 19th century science’s unsung hero.

11x24 You are my home ❤️ Everything that is broken can be mended

Relative size of whale to man.

This is a fin whale (or Rorqual). It’s the sixth-largest animal on earth, after the blue whale, right whales, and bowhead whale. Unlike those larger whales, the fin whale isn’t lumbering and girthy.

Rorquals were often called the “greyhound of the sea” by whale fishermen due to their slender build and speed when chased; nevertheless, the Antarctic fin whale had over 750,000 animals killed in the 19th and early 20th century, and only about 15,000 remain today. The North Atlantic fin whale is somewhat better off, but never had high populations of individuals to begin with. 

Even though fin whales don’t reproduce quickly, they’ve recovered significantly since hunting bans were enacted. For example, the population around Greenland increased by nearly 4,000 individuals between 1974 and 1989, even given Indigenous Subsistence Legislation allowing the Inuit of the country to hunt the whales for food and oil - the skiffs of the Inuit are ill-suited to chase down fast whales, and the total take for the year of 1989 was 4 individuals, 2 of which were already injured and debilitated from unknown causes.

The Principal Forms of the Skeleton and of the Teeth. Dr. Richard Owen, 1854.

Richard Owen with completed Moa skeleton.

In 1839, Richard Owen, the man who coined the term dinosaur, announced to the world that a bird nearly the size of an ostrich had once lived in New Zealand. He based his theory on the discovery and examination of a fragment of femur bone found in Poverty Bay. His theory was confirmed three years later as more and more fragments of moa skeleton were discovered. Owen was able to reconstruct the entire skeleton of the wingless bird.