Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Having such a smart readership is both gratifying and terrifying. Yesterday the Rigor Vitae ID quiz was trounced once again within the span of a couple of hours. Obviously, the photo was of a softshell turtle of the family Trionychidae, but closer identification was much trickier. The heavy lifting was done this time by Neil of Microecos, who correctly identified the subject as belonging to the genus Cyclanorbis, the African flap-shell turtles. I was unable to honor his request for a beetle box, and his coin-toss for the species came up tails. Had he done a Google image search for "Cyclanorbis," he'd have seen that I'd posted the picture earlier with the proper ID, which is what I suspect he did right after the fact. That proper ID (C. senegalensis) was supplied by Andrew R. Special thanks to hand-model Paco, whose distinctive arm-tone seemed to direct everyone to the correct continent. Aside from the prefrontal bones, the Senegal Flapshell is smaller and darker, with a narrower and differently-shaped shell (it also has distinctive throat callosities which aren't visible in the picture). No votes came in for the related and poorly-known genus Cyloderma, but C.J. covered the last base by taking up the card for Trionyx triunguis, the African Softshell (pictured above). A big applause to you all. I think it's only fair to declare the quiz a tie, so if Andrew and Neil can email me at cpbvkATjunoDOTcom with their subject requests and mailing addresses, I'll get to work on their drawings.
photo taken in southern Cameroon by CPBvK


Blogger Neil said...

Indeed, I feel vaguely uneasy about it, but Paco's arm was a major clue. Racial taxonomic profiling, ick.

Still, what an amazing animal that turtle. And I was glad to rediscover your softshell post even if it was after the fact.

Picking a subject is going to be challenging. I think I will have to sit down with Rigor Vitae the book and do some thinking.

5:15 PM  

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