Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Name that skull

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has a great website on human origins. It is a treasure trove of information on human and primate evolution including a 3D digital collection of many artifacts and fossils. My favorite feature is the Mystery Skull Interactive which gives you a set of skulls and asks you to identify them by comparing them side-by-side with skulls that are already known. It is a great way to highlight the meticulous attention to detail that paleontologists and anthropologists need to have to be able to correctly identify fossils.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Catfish preying on pigeons on land

There are plenty of examples of terrestrial vertebrates feeding on aquatic animals, but it is unusual for bony fish to go after animals on land. Some marine predators like sharks and cetaceans, for example, will eat birds in the water and orcas can jump onto pieces of ice to get at seals, but this is the first example of a fish that essentially beaches itself to get at prey on land. As the authors of the study note, these catfish are not native and so this may be an example of a predator taking advantage of a new food source in a somewhat 'artificial' setting.