…a uniquely large species of Neanurid springtail that is endemic to New Zealand. H. paucispinosa is fairly large as far as springtails go with individuals capable of growing to several millimeters long! Like other (smaller) springtails Holacanthella paucispinosa is a scavenger and forages for organic material in leaf litter and under logs.
A bizarre new bug resembling the major 90s toy craze Troll Dolls has baffled scientists. Teams from the University of Harvard and museums around the world trekked for three weeks to explore the untouched rainforest of southeast Suriname. They managed to catalogue 60 new animal species - but one little critter has proved too tricky to record. The 7mm wide, six-legged bug has been whittled down to possibly fitting into four nymph families: Dictyopharidae, Nogodinidae, Lophopidae, and Tropiduchidae.
crypsis is the ability of an organism to blend in with its environment, as seen here in (click pic) grasshoppers, mantids, geckos (three in the fifth photo), toads (three in the ninth photo), snakes and katydids, all of which have evolved to mimic or become inconspicuous amongst leaves. photos by (click pic) john cancalosi, christian zeigler, mattias klum and thomas marent.
"…from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." - charles darwin
…an extinct genus of paenungulate mammals that lived during the late Eocene and the early Oligocene of northern Africa. Although Arsinoitherium looks like a rhinoceros its actually more closely related to elephants, sirenians, desmostylians and hyraxes. Arsinoitherium boasted a pair of enormous knife-liked horns that projected from above their nose, their exact function is unknown but it is suggested that they might have been hollow and used as a sound resonator. Arsinoitherium probably inhabited tropical rainforests and mangrove swamps and would of feed on plant matter. Their large size would of rendered them immune to predation. However, creodonts might have preyed on their young and sick.
Cetartiodactylais the clade in which whales (including dolphins) and even-toed ungulates have currently been placed. The term was coined by merging the name for the two orders, Cetacea and Artiodactyla, into a single word. The term Cetartiodactyla reflects the idea that whales evolved within the artiodactyls. Under this definition, their closest living land relative is thought to be the hippopotamus. The clade formed by uniting whales and hippos is called Whippomorpha. Alternatively, the term ‘Cetartiodactyla’ is used to denote a clade where Cetacea evolved alongside Artiodactyla and not within it. Under this definition, all artiodactyls, including hippos, are more closely related to one another than any are to the whales.
Elomeryx, top, was a land animal related to modern-day goats, pigs and hippos. Pakicetus was clearly a water creature, but it spent some of its life on land and had the feet of a land mammal. Rodhocetus’s feet worked for both walking and swimming. Dorudon is striking for its resemblance to modern whales (note the front flippers and horizontal flukes)—but it still sported tiny back feet.
[Image: S.H.Morgan’s cladogram of the animal groups that fall under Dinosauria. Somewhat outdated, but still useful for our purposes.]
Many of us grew up referring to any vaguely reptilian prehistoric animal as a “dinosaur”. In truth, that group is much more exclusive than you might think. Dinosaurs fall under one of two orders—Saurischia or Ornithischia—and share a more recent common ancestor with one another than with any of the following animals:
The first vertebrates capable of powered flight, pterosaurs ruled the Mesozoic skies long before the earliest birds appeared on the scene. Current thinking is that they shared a close relationship with dinosaurs in the group Ornithodira, but they themselves were not dinosaurs.
Many prehistoric crocodile relatives had erect limbs like dinosaurs, so perhaps it’s no wonder people get them confused. However, these animals evolved their erect stance independently of dinosaurs. A good rule of thumb to remember is that if it walks on four legs and looks like a crocodile, it probably isn’t a dinosaur.
Unlike birds such as penguins, non-avian dinosaurs generally weren’t as big on the whole aquatic lifestyle thing as we once thought. The dolphin-like ichthyosaurs, long-bodied mosasaurs and snaky- or thick-necked plesiosaurs were more closely related to lizards than to dinosaurs.
As synapsids, the often sail-backed pelycosaurs were more closely related to mammals than to dinosaurs. That’s right—creatures often marketed as dinosaurs actually occupy a branch on the animal family tree much closer to you and me!
This group includes modern mammals, so it should be pretty obvious why they’re not considered dinosaurs despite many of the early forms’ more reptilian appearances.
Plenty of other examples exist, but these critters are some of the most common culprits when it comes to being confused for dinosaurs. Remember, it can’t hurt to do your research before calling something a dinosaur!