April 7th, 2008

bikini

ancient mammals

One of the best things about having a high school biology teacher for a boyfriend is that they get to hook in to this network where you can download like every wacky nature special ever for free. So we usually spend our Saturday nights ordering in Chinese food and "quality testing" all of the shows. So we saw "Walking with Prehistoric Beasts" this past weekend, and I knew I had to share.

Dang, everything was absolutely massive back then. If I saw a herbivore the size of a house grazing out in my backyard I would have freaked. From the Discovery Channel's website:



Macrauchenia

Imagine a creature that looks like a horse, with a camel's fur and a long, muscular nose the size of a boot. This bizarre-looking animal is a member of a group of now-extinct mammals called litopterns, which have only been found in South America. No one knows how they are related to other mammals; until more fossils are found, they are assumed to be distant relatives of our familiar hoofed animals.

PRONUNCIATION: MAK-RAW-KEE-NEE-AH
LIVED: 7 million — 20,000 years ago
SIZE: 5 feet at the shoulder
FACT: Herbivorous, browsing on trees
MEANING: Long llama (Long llama is loooooooong. Sorry, it had to be done.)
CLOSEST LIVING RELATIVE: None, died out
RANGE: South America

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It is seriously a good thing that our ancestors didn't show up sooner with these sloths the size of buses wandering around. I don't care if it eats plants and only sometimes meat, I would have shit myself. EDIT: I looked at the dates again and it appears that our ancestors were in fact around at the same time as said sloths. Commence pants-shittery.

It's pretty amazing though how even mammals benefited from the temperatures and had to shrink up so much as time went on in order to be evolutionarily successful.
Floating nebulous glowy thing!

Barbourula kalimantanensis

Otherwise known as the frog that has no lungs.

These Bornean frogs have been known for about 30 years, but because of the difficulty in finding and catching them (they're small and live in very cold water), too few specimens have existed in collections for anyone to risk dissecting, so no one knew they were lungless until recently.

I couldn't find much more info about these guys (I couldn't even find a picture!). Hopefully there'll be more stuff out there in the coming months.

EDIT: Photo found! http://www.livescience.com/php/multimedia/imagedisplay/img_display.php?s=animals&c=&l=on&pic=080407-lungless-frog-02.jpg&cap=The+first+lungless+frog+has+been+discovered+lurking+in+the+jungles+of+Borneo.+Credit%3A+David+Bickford&title=