A Mammal for Your Monday


Ring-tailed cat, Bassariscus astutus.

Native to Arizona.



Nyctereutes lockwoodi

Back in December, I noted the announcement of a new species of raccoon dog (Nyctereutes lockwoodi). The paper is now online and, as we suspected, the species is “[n]amed after the late Charles Lockwood, for his contribution to our knowledge of the genus Australopithecus in South and East Africa as well as his role in the exploration of the morphological temporal trends of A. afarensis in the Hadar Formation.” As it happens, Bill Kimbel and I are currently putting the finishing touches to our final manuscript with Charlie. More of that later, no doubt.

Ref: Gerrads et al., (2010) “Nyctereutes lockwoodi, n. sp., a New Canid (Carnivora: Mammalia) from the Middle Pliocene of Dikika, Lower Awash, Ethiopia.” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30(3):981-987. doi: 10.1080/02724631003758326

Omajinaakoos? No. Mink.


Having dissected more mustelids than I care to remember (including decomposing mink), when I saw the photos of the Trout Lake monster (aka “omajinaakoos”), mink was what I thought. And it looks like I was right.

A (skeptical) veterinarian’s take on Macho B

Over at SkeptiVet , “Bartimaeus” brings to bear his experience as a veterinarian on the whole Macho B debacle. If you are interested in this issue, you really should read what he has to say.

(And while you are at it, add the blog to your feed … the author is a skeptic, a veterinarian, and an inhabitant of Northern Arizona.)

The tale of Macho B comes to an end


In the past, I have posted on the status of jaguars here in the Southwest borderlands and have highlighted the case of “Macho B”, a 16 year old male captured, tagged and (eventually) euthanized last year. On Friday, Emil McCain, a biologist for the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project (website defunct), pled guilty to intentionally trapping the specimen in violation of the Endangered Species Act. It appears that McCain has previously trapped jaguars in operations that resulted in at least three deaths and previously admitted a lack of training in handling the species. Today, charges were also filed against a technician, Janay Brun.

Further information is here and here.

Update: I’ve just reread the following statement by McCain which he made in April 2009:

Macho B has become an international ambassador for jaguar conservation. As we grieve the great cats very unfortunate death, we must not place blame or let it divide us.

“Unfortunate” in the sense of perhaps caused by McCain’s illegal handling of the animal. It is no wonder he did not want blame to be placed.

Ocelot sighted in Southern Arizona


The Sky Island Alliance is reporting that a remote camera has captured an image of an ocelot in southern Arizona. This is the first live record of the species in the state.

(image source – Stanford University)

Update (4/24): The Arizona Republic is reporting that a cat killed east of the Phoenix metro area may be an ocelot. If so, the specimen was a significant distance from the border. AZGFD statement is here.

Update (5/18): Cute though the above photo is, it’s not of the actual ocelot seen in Cochise County. Here is that photo.