Monthly Archives: May 2011


Iriomote’s Endemic Cat

Posted 29 May 2011 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Although islands are known for the high degree of endemism found amongst their flora and fauna, there are relatively few examples of endemic carnivores. This is largely because islands tend to be depauperate of large mammalian predators in general, much less exclusive endemics (although see my recent Scientific American guest post for an intriguing exception to the rule about carnivore diversity on islands). The long-term prognosis for an endemic species is usually cloudy; extinction rates for these organisms are high,... Read more

A Pain in the Neck: Homeosis in Sloths and Manatees

Posted 14 May 2011 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Many people have heard the fascinating factoid that the comically elongated necks of giraffes actually comprise the same number of cervical (neck) vertebrae as humans, and it’s absolutely true—the giraffe’s neck vertebrae are each stretched out to nearly 10 inches long to achieve such a feat. The similarity isn’t limited to our species and giraffes: nearly all mammals, from bats to bonobos, have exactly 7 cervical vertebrae, a staunch testament to their shared ancestry. Because nature invariably keps things interesting... Read more