Posts Tagged ‘tenrecs’

Looks can be deceiving

Looks can be deceiving

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

We are all taught not to judge a book by its cover, it’s what inside that counts. Our new paper published in PeerJ shows that the same is true for tenrecs. These cute Madagascar natives are often used as an example of a mammal family with high morphological diversity. It’s easy to see why: there are tenrecs which resemble shrews, moles, hedgehogs and even otters. These differences are even more remarkable when you consider that tenrecs are more closely related to elephants and aardvarks than they are to any of the small, “insectivore” mammals. One of only [&hellip

Say

Say “the rise of the age of mammals” again, I double dare you!

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives, Research

In biology and among biologists, we like to use terms that we know are not correct but that still come in handy when you’re confident that your interlocutor understands them the way you do. I’m thinking of terms such as “key adaptations”, “living fossils”, etc… However, among them, there is one that particularly bugs me and makes me feel like Samuel L. Jackson in the iconic Pulp Fiction scene and that is: “the rise of the age of mammals”.   Recently, Barry Lovegrove and his students published a nice data driven paper in Proceedings of the Royal [&hellip

Silence of the Tenrecs

Silence of the Tenrecs

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

I’ve been studying tenrecs for almost two years. I’ve read about them, watched video clips and handled hundreds of dead specimens. However, within that time I only met two live individuals, both of which were captive zoo animals. That’s all changed. I’m now well acquainted with a variety of tenrec critters. It turns out they’re a quiet bunch. My supervisor, Natalie, and I spent two weeks in Madagascar working with a research team from the Vahatra Association led by Steve Goodman. The purpose of their trip was to conduct a disease transmission study in bats and small terrestrial [&hellip

Echolocating Tenrecs

Echolocating Tenrecs

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

I’m going to Madagascar tomorrow. I have all the essentials; insect repellent, tent, flat pack wooden box, bat detector, three metres of blackout curtain material… Not the most usual of packing lists admittedly but all necessary items for the trip ahead. I’m going to study tenrecs; cute mammals which are the subject of my PhD. I’m interested in convergent evolution between tenrecs and other small mammals. So far I’ve been focusing on morphological convergence – work which has involved trips to beautiful museums and taming the dark arts of morphometrics. The primary aim of my research is [&hellip

School of Natural Sciences Postgraduate Symposium 2014: Part 4/4

School of Natural Sciences Postgraduate Symposium 2014: Part 4/4

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research, Seminars

On the 20th and 21st of February we had our annual School of Natural Sciences Postgraduate Symposium. Over the course of two days many of our PhD students presented their work to the School. We also had two interesting plenary talks from Dr Sophie Arnaud-Haond (Ifremer) and Dr Lesley Morrell (University of Hull). Unfortunately our third speaker, Dr Fiona Jordan (University of Bristol) had to cancel due to illness. For those of you who are interested in exactly what we work on here at EcoEvo@TCD, here are the abstracts from the PhD student presentations. Check out the TCD website for more details! Ruby Prickett*: Geographical, ecological [&hellip

Trophy Hunters

Trophy Hunters

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

It may be an inconvenient truth in these conservation-focused times but we owe a debt of gratitude to the trophy hunters; the army officers and colonial-types who killed animals for sport and prestige. Without their considerable efforts, the vaults of natural history museums would be devoid of the skeletons and skins which form the bases of both exhibitions and many PhD and MSc. theses. Of course, were it not for the over-zealous efforts of hunters perhaps many charismatic animal species wouldn’t be so endangered now but let’s focus on the positives here… Naturally, if you’re a hunter [&hellip

Morphological convergence and disparity in Malagasy tenrecs

Morphological convergence and disparity in Malagasy tenrecs

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

“I wish to register a complaint…” the first six months of my PhD have passed by far too quickly. As the date of departure for my first major data collection trip looms, I’m navigating the exciting but unnerving transition from the planning to action stages of my project. Fortunately the members of NERD club were on hand to very kindly listen to my ramblings and provide excellent ideas to add to and modify my research. Here’s the plan so far… Evolutionary studies have long-been concerned with understanding patterns of variation in morphological diversity. Two aspects of morphological variation which [&hellip

Tenrec tales

Tenrec tales

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

Tenrecs are one of the most interesting and fascinating mammal groups yet many people have never heard of them. They are one of only four mammalian groups to have colonised Madagascar, a land filled with evolutionary curiosities. Tenrecs are a striking example of convergent evolution. From a single colonising ancestor, tenrecs have evolved into incredibly diverse species which resemble moles, shrews, hedgehogs and even otters! Contrary to appearances, tenrecs’ closest relatives are actually the golden moles and elephant shrews (Chrysochloridae). However, physical convergences are so strong that early taxonomists didn’t recognise tenrecs as being closely related to [&hellip