Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Thirteen months ago, excited headlines heralded the discovery of a "new mammal species" whose image, both coming and going, had been captured by a camera trap set up by WWF biologists in central Borneo. From my own sampling of the general media, the consensus seemed to be that the photographs revealed either a hitherto undescribed species of primate or viverrid. I've had my own thoughts about the pictures, but haven't felt confident enough in my knowledge of mammalian anatomy to post them. Darren Naish has posted a fine synopsis of the conversation up till now on Tetrapod Zoology.

A new paper by a team of mammalogists who've forgotten far more about Bornean fauna and mammal morphology than I'll ever know believe that the WWF camera shutter was actually tripped by a member of a family most of us never considered. Their suggestion is clever and interesting, but despite my lack of expertise, or maybe because of it, I still have a bit of trouble swallowing it completely. I'll wait for Darren to post his conclusions before spoiling the surprise and weighing in myself.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darren just posted part II. I'm glad you included these images here, reasonably high resolution. Makes it easier to compare with the drawings in Darren's post. Amazing how misleading photos can be.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Carel Brest van Kempen said...

Thanks for the heads up, Filipe. I think your point is the true moral of this tale. Part two of my post includes a pastiche that will hopefully make that comparison easier yet.

1:22 PM  
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