The woods are lovely, dark and deep...
Last update
2022-08-23 17:13:19

    I submit to you that the most iconic feature of any animal is either unlikely or impossible to fossilize.

    If all we had of wolves were their bones we would never guess that they howl.

    If all we had of elephants were fossils with no living related species, we might infer some kind of proboscis but we'd never come up with those ears.

    If all we had of chickens were bones, we wouldn't know about their combs and wattles, or that roosters crow.

    We wouldn't know that lions have manes, or that zebras have stripes, or that peacocks have trains, that howler monkeys yell, that cats purr, that deer shed the velvet from their antlers, that caterpillars become butterflies, that spiders make webs, that chickadees say their name, that Canada geese are assholes, that orangutans are ginger, that dolphins echolocate, or that squid even existed.

    My point here is that we don't know anything about dinosaurs. If we saw one we would not recognize it. As my evidence I submit the above, along with the fact that it took us two centuries to realize they'd been all around us the whole time.


    So that people don’t need to go through the notes:

    - We have fossils of spider webs

    - Paleontologists have reconstructed the larynx (voice box) of extinct animals and we have a pretty good idea what vocalizations they were capable of

    - Fossilized pigments have been found in a variety of taxa

    - Soft tissues fossilize more often than you think; we have skin impressions for like 90% of Tyrannosaurus rex’s full body (shoulder blades and neck are the only bits missing)


    If pop culture is your only window into extinct animals, then you do not remotely understand how much we know.

    We know the entire lifecycle of a tyrannosaurus. We know from the sheer amount of remains we have, from every stange.

  • We know roughly how they sounded (as the person above me said).
  • We know they had remarkable vision.
  • We know they had the second. strongest sense of smell in history.
  • We know from their bones that they grew to a certain size and stayed there until about 14 or so, then absolutely ballooned up to their adult size in about three or four years.
  • We know they likely lived in family groups, because we have bones with certainly fatal injuries for a solitary animal (broken legs and such) that are completely healed.
  • We know exactly how other dinosaurs look, down to colors and patterns, because bones are not the only information that is preserved.

    The Sinosauropteryx is one such dinosaur. Because pigmentation molecules were preserved in the feather impressions, we know it's colors, and it's tail rings (which one would argue would be it's "iconic feature."

    (Art credit Julio Lacerda)

    Microraptor is another! We know from feather impressions that it had four wings. We know from pigmentation that it was an iredecent black, like a raven.

    (Art credit Vitor Silva)

    This is not limited to dinosaurs, or feathers. We've found pigmentation in scales and skin. We've completely reconstructed two extinct penguins, colors and all. We've figured out the colors of some non-avian and non-feathered dinosaurs. We can identify evidence of feathers existing on animals without feather impressions.

    We have feathered dinosaurs preserved in amber.

    We can defer likely behavioral patterns through adaptations we see in bones, and from the environments they were found in. We can see how certain movements evolved through musculature attachments (yes, how muscles attached is often preserved). We know avian flight likely evolved by "accident" by the way early raptorforms moved their arms to strike at their prey.

    We also understand behavior in extant animals and can easily speculate likely behaviors in extinct animals. (A predator running for it's life is not going to exhibit hunting behaviors)

    We learn and understand way more from "rocks" than paleontologists are given credit for. And if you watch a movie like Jurassic World, which has no interest in portraying anything with any sort of accuracy, and your take away is "We can't possibly know anything about these animals," then you don't understand science.

    As for shrinkwrapped reconstructions, we understand how muscles attach, and how fat works. Artists who lean into shrinkwrapping are are not generally concerned with scientific accuracy, or biology. They're only concerned with Awesombro.

    If true paleoartists tried to reconstruct a hippo, while they naturally would not get every bit correct, it would certainly look like a real animal, and not that alien monster that tumblr is so fond of using as "proof" that paleontologists don't know anything (an art piece that itself was extreme and satirical, and a condemnation of the particular subset of paleoartists I mentioned earlier)

    Every time paleoblr tries to show you how extinct animals actually looked, all we get is a chorus of "thanks i hate it" and "stop ruining dinosaurs!"


    Sinosauropteryx lived in the same place as Red Pandas live now

    Millions of years apart - same color scheme


    While I personally agree with a lot of your points, there are two things that are kinda bothering me. First of all, you're generalizing a very american standpoint. Not every ecosystem and society is the same as where you live, and calling someone a bad pet owner bc their cat might be eaten by a coyote even though that is a very specific danger is kinda off to me.

    Secondly is the argument that even if the cats hate it you should do it for their safety. Which is like?? That's a wild animal. Sure we domesticated them enough to coexist with them but still. What use is a long but unhappy life even to a human, not to mention an animal with no concept of death? Of course some outdoor cats will die early (though not nearly as many as you make believe). But at least they were happy.

    I don't understand why you would ask someone for their opinion and then be angry about it.

    Don't ask for other people's opinions going forward then.

    Last time I will address this: I said what I said, I'm not changing my mind, I don't care that you feel that way because YOU ALL ASKED FOR MY OPINION IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    Take it or leave it. But I'm not arguing over this anymore because y'all got your own feelings hurt over another person's opinion that you asked for. It's like, you hold your hand over boiling water. You may or may not like the outcome, but you made that choice.

    I honestly also think you all are taking this WAY too personally and you shouldn't. It's opinion of mine. Do what you want to do, I DO NOT CARE. It's done and I'm done and over it lol.


    Cats aren’t wild animals in any place other than where they historically existed before humans and them teamed up. They’re an invasive species and consume an estimated 2 billion birds a year world wide and an estimated hundreds of millions of reptiles a year in Australia alone. They have contributed to, if not been the driving force of, multiple extinctions on islands within the last few hundred years. I love cats and have my own, but they should all be indoor cats. Your cat might love going outside, but your cat is an invasive species. It does not belong outside. Please keep it inside if you want to help prevent future extinctions. (This message is to the anons, in case that wasn’t clear).


    One of my favorite tricks for designing alien species/cultures is to take a real animal with an interesting lifecycle and think about what that biology would translate to if they had human intelligence


    Example: silk moths as a base species

    Because the moths themselves don’t eat and only live long enough to mate and then starve to death, the entire culture is made up of children and adolescents. The older children raise the younger ones, with families being made up of hatchmates from different years.

    Because molts and eventual transformation into a short lived adult happen on a set schedule, families have a cycle— when your oldest set of siblings cocoon to become adults, you wait at the mating grounds and try to adopt their newborns after they pass. If that fails, you take any ‘orphans’ you can find.

    Because death and birth are nearly simultaneous, they have a religion based around reincarnation, and infants with markings similar to a parent are often given their name. Claiming the offspring of a beloved family member is vitally important, because you want to be able to protect their soul and keep them close.

    Because it’s hard to track the offspring of your male family members, there are sometimes major fights when a family sees an infant with familiar markings in another family’s clutch.

    Between mating seasons, their culture is extremely food-oriented, because everyone is growing and silkworms eat nigh constantly. They spend most of their lives outdoors but sleep and shelter from bad weather in large family dwellings made from wood and the remains of the silk cocoons of prior generations.


    everyone is really vibing with the silkworm aliens I see


    There is an insect (can’t remember the species) that lays multiple eggs that overwinter as larvae. All the eggs are laid in the same den (often a hollow log, I think) and the larvae laid earlier are the ones that will be house keepers. Their only role is to keep other larvae alive and to go out and forage for food for their “better” siblings and to keep the den clean. The eggs laid later are the kids that stay in the den all winter. Their only goal is to be closeted and cared for by their housekeeping siblings, and eventually spring comes and they leave the den as adults, off to find mates and lay eggs of their own. The housekeeping siblings usually don’t make it through the winter and starve while caring for their siblings. If they do make it through, they get left behind, never to reach adulthood and to die alone. I think that would be both a compelling story and while I heard about this in the context of a scientific talk about how this specific species handles overwintering, it still haunts me…


    If you are not able to take a shower, best way to get clean is just with a washcloth, soap and the bathroom sink. Tackle all of the spots on your body that need to be cleaned {underarms, private areas, under boobs, behind ears}. Therefore you're at least clean and you don't have to put in the work of doing the whole shower thing. And wash your hair in the sink as well when you need to wash your hair.


    As a former remote field biologist, I can attest that clean hair (via a bucket of water, a cup, and space to rinse the shampoo out) and a “baby wipe” shower can make you feel super clean.


    Have you heard the good word about the Pembrokeshire walrus yet?

    This walrus is fucken lost.

    But Wales has lost its collective shit about it. They're generally keeping its location secret to keep people away, but we get updates every day if it's still here, if it's happy, if it's healthy. We think it was in Ireland about two weeks ago, which is interesting, because it is not actually native to Ireland either. Why is it here? No one knows.

    It seems to like Pembrokeshire beaches.


    I regret to inform you all that the walrus is a delinquent.

    In attempting to climb aboard a dinghy in Tenby it capsized it.

    It then proceeded to Tenby harbour where it tried to climb aboard a fishing boat.

    Incredibly, this is not an April Fools


    Today on English People RUIN Everything, a bunch of English tourists from Essex and Leeds broke covid-19 regulations and travelled to Tenby over Easter to try and see Wally (so named after Where's Wally) and crowded him with jet skis and surfboards and stuff, so he's not been seen since Monday. We don't know yet if he's moved to a secluded spot again, or left Wales entirely.

    But, you know, I doubt we were going to have Wally for much longer anyway, since they need to head back home again at some point. Godspeed, Wally. May your fish be ever plentiful.


    The English went back home and Wally came back to Tenby! We stan a true Welsh icon, folks.

    Some facts about Wally:

  • She is named after Where’s Wally because she is hard to spot
  • She was previously in Ireland, and then secluded beaches in Pembrokeshire, but has really taken a shine to Tenby, which is a delightful village
  • She has a scar on one flipper but it’s long-healed and doesn’t seem to bother her
  • She is the southern-most walrus ever spotted in the wild!
  • The current theory as to how she got here is that she fell asleep on an ice floe that drifted south, but she’s not bothered about returning yet
  • She’s believed to be two years old
  • Her gender is still a bit of a mystery but we seem to be leaning female
  • This story on Wales Online claims she’s believed to be male, but then uses female pronouns. It also features a video of some Welsh people chatting about Wally, including a child whose first language is very clearly Welsh and by the end of his part is struggling to think of things to say about the walrus in English.



    The Western Telegraph has opted for male pronouns, and is being very firm that Wally is male, although other news outlets are still all over the place. But what has Wally been up to the past few days?

  • He is rapidly gaining weight, and is still giving no cause for concern to either of the organisations watching him (which are the RSPCA a bit and Welsh Marine Life Rescue a lot; this is funny though because a walrus is so far outside of the wheelhouse of either of those organisations like we’re all just guessing here, lads)
  • His delinquent ways have continued - he has now attempted to climb onto multiple buoys (all unsuccessfully) and at one point nearly got a mooring rope stuck around his neck. 
  • Has he learned from this?
  • He is now a Fashion Icon. He has surfaced multiple times wearing accessories in his moustache. Mostly this has been shells, but three days ago he upped his fashion game by wearing this starfish:
  • What an Icon.

    The photographer of this picture, one Amy Compton who has been Wally’s official photographer since the start, has been making these delightful Wally masks (inset). They sell for £5, of which £1 goes to Welsh Marine Life Rescue. If you would like your own Wally mask, contact her here!


    My mother came for a visit today and we checked and Tenby is an hour away from me, so we went for a Lovely Day Trip to Find a Walrus.

    Friends, I took the shittest photo there has ever been of a Walrus. But I absolutely did get to see em.

    A lifeboat wandered by to check em out at one point, and ey just... sank. Just dropped below the surface like Homer Simpson moving backwards into a hedge. After a while the boat left, and Wally surfaced again.

    I can now confirm that ey really, really likes blowing water around like a whale, and also kept eyeing up that buoy next to em.

    Also, I had entirely forgotten how comically beautiful Tenby is, but that's an aside


    Time for a Wally Update!!!

    It's only a little one, but apparently we're getting Serious about this walrus, lads - the police are now stepping in to say that anyone interfering with Wally (examples of this interference to date: throwing things at him, taking boats and paddle boards out to him, throwing fish overboard to tempt him closer, etc) is committing a criminal offence and we must send evidence of Assholes to them. So that's fun!

    Meanwhile, the tense stand-off between the RNLI and Wally continues over Who Gets To Use The Lifeboat Slipway. Here is a picture of Wally in full delinquent mode.

    What a public menace.


    Time for the weekly Wally news!

    Here is the problem with 2,500 lbs of predatory sea potato using the slipway of a lifeboat station as a spa bed: sometimes, canoeists get in trouble near Stackpole and need rescuing and then some underwhelmed Welsh coast guard is going to have to try to chase said predatory sea potato off the slipway so they can launch the boat.

    Here is the problem with that scenario: an underwhelmed Welsh coast guard basically views 2,500 lbs of predatory sea potato as a sort of ornery gelatinous cow, and so will try to do this with, and I am not making this up, a broom. But a ton of overgrown seal has no fear of brooms, so the attempt is not entirely successful under time-sensitive conditions while canoeists are actively drowning 10 miles away.

    Solution? An air horn.

    Which did work long enough to get the boat out, and then Wally clambered back aboard barely minutes later and fell asleep again. So trick learned, I guess.

    Anyway, since I've apparently become Tumblr's primary Wally journalist, I thought I'd go for a cheeky visit again today so I could report on their condition FIRST HAND (you're all welcome, I have incredible integrity). Today I tried using a binocular over my phone camera with was extremely stressful and moderately successful - and I have two pieces of NEWS.

    Story the First

    Two dinghies with divers aboard suddenly turned up and sailed right up to them. There are Welsh Marine Life Rescue volunteers everywhere, and one woman immediately yelled "YOU ARE TOO CLOSE. MOVE AWAY."

    Everyone on the cliff went silent. The boats went closer.

    "YOU ARE BREAKING THE LAW," yelled the beachmaster. "MOVE AWAY."

    Tumblrs, they did not.

    "CAN YOU HEAR ME?" she yelled. "MOVE AWAY."

    At which point, the whole fucken cliff starts joining in, because Welsh people are Like That.

    "Move away!"

    "Leave 'im alone, mun!"

    "Move away, butt, what you doing!"

    "He's the size of an 'orse, bois, can't you see 'im from here?!"

    "Bloody move you fucks, you'll scare 'im away again!"

    (That last one was, I swear, an eighty year old woman.)

    The boats, suddenly being yelled at by a whole cliff of Welsh people, sailed away. Later, we followed the beachmaster who was now on a mission, and found her with a couple of community police officers ripping the shit out of the divers. It was very satisfying.

    Story the Second

    I mentioned my binocular and phone trick. It came in handy. At first it gave me some very satisfying shots for a distance picture on a phone camera:

    But, you know, whatever.

    But THEN I got this picture:

    which I got 0.256778 seconds before that majestic Arctic beast of purest beautiful nature untamed FELL OFF THE SIDE OF THE SLIPWAY LIKE A CAT THAT GOT TOO CLOSE TO A TABLE EDGE

    Wally was fine, the seagull to the right was traumatised.


    This is not an update as such but my friend Chris who I took with me to get the scoop on Wally on Sunday had a real camera with him, and he has produced a WAY better photo than I did, and I want you all to see Just How Louche a Walrus is capable of looking:

    Handsome boi


    Okay, so this post went from 24,000 notes to 40,000 overnight, and I am getting a lot of important scientific queries about Wally! So I shall call upon my expertise as a skilled journalist of huge integrity and also a genuine, actual lecturer in environmental science to answer them all as best I can. I shall also use pictures.

    1. When did this happen?

    I have included many links in this thread to news articles on Wally, each of which is dated, so you can check those for accurate dates; but, xe turned up in Ireland in March 2021, and then made hir way to Pembrokeshire, Wales end of March. Xe reached Tenby a week or so later in April, and now refuses to leave. As of this update (6th May, 2021) xe’s still there and chillin’ - my friend Chris’ louche photo there was taken on Sunday the 2nd May. 

    I shall date all updates from now on. Apologies for this uncharacteristic lapse in my journalistic performance. I have let Wally down.

    2. “Oh my god do you guys call Waldo Wally?!??”

    Folks!! Folks so many of you are doing this!!! But here’s the thing!!!

    Where’s Wally is a British series and that’s the original name!!! It has been translated and regionalised around the world, and the name was changed in 28 of them!! A sizeable number don’t even sound like ‘Wally’!!! In France he’s Charlie! In Lithuania he’s Jonas! In Arabic versions he’s Fuḍūlī!!!

    Yet only one nationality is repeatedly reacting with astonishment while assuming theirs is the one true original version!!! Guess which one!!! You have to stop!!! Especially the few who have responded with out and out swearing and aggression when I’ve explained!!! THIS POST IS ABOUT A WALRUS!!!!

    3. Is Wally okay in Wales? Does xe need to leave/be moved?

    Xe’s currently fine - an Arctic walrus can handle water temperatures of up to 15 degrees celsius, which West Wales is certainly currently accommodating. Xe was also distressingly underweight when first spotted fresh off the ice floe, but we’ve been monitoring hir health and xe’s roughly doubled hir bodyweight and is very healthy. I asked the fishmonger in Tenby if xe’s affecting the catch and the nice man said no and sold me a lemon sole for my mam. So right now, Wally is doing great, all needs met, with no real clashes with other stakeholders (i.e. fishers and that) except for, you know, the one (i.e. the lifeboat people).

    However, high summer in Wales is warm enough that the sea will top the temperature threshold. So, we’re expecting Wally to leave by hirself in a month or so, if xe doesn’t decide to move sooner. Whether xe decides to swim all the way back home, or xe starts just moving north along the western coast and next turns up in the Isle of Mann or Scotland to continue hir holiday of the Celtic Ring remains to be seen. But, xe’ll do it hirself eventually, so it’s down to us to just keep hir happy and healthy for as long as xe chooses to stay.

    4. I think Wally is female!

    Yeah, maybe

    5. I think Wally is male!

    Very possibly

    6. I think walruses have no concept of gender!

    Almost definitely

    7. What’s Walrus in Welsh?

    They’re not native, so the Cymricisation “walrws” is getting a lot of use - but, Welsh is nothing if not poetic, so in official literature it’s “morfarch”, which means “sea stallion” or “sea knight” depending on your dialect.

    8. Did they really use a broom and an airhorn on Wally?!

    Here is a forlorn coast guard attempting to shift hir with a broom:

    And here is the same coastguard attempting to shift hir with an airhorn:

    9. I cannot believe this walrus is a delinquent!!!

    Very well. Here is Wally’s criminal case file, including photographic evidence of two boarded boats and hir mugshot:


    Imagine assigning pronouns to a walrus.


    ...What are the alternatives


    I drew the delinquent


    The world's oldest story? Astronomers say global myths about 'seven sisters' stars may reach back 100,000 years https://phys.org/news/2020-12-world-oldest-story-astronomers-global.html

    Holy shit, this is cool!

    So many cultures call the Pleiades some variation of the "seven sisters" despite only having six visible stars. There only appear to be six because two of the stars are so close together as to appear as one.

    The myths also mention one sister leaving or hiding to explain why there's only six. And based off observations and measurements, those two that are so close together used to be visibly separate. One literally has moved to hide.

    And based off the similarities between the more commonly known Greek myth and the Aboriginal Australian myth, plus some other stuff, this myth could possibly even date back to when humanity still all resided in Africa!


    So cool!


    The picture in the background of the second one




    Sad update everyone, Tama recently passed away… An estimated 3,000 people, including railway officials, attended Tama the cat’s funeral on Sunday, days after she died of heart failure aged 16. [x]


    For those who haven’t read articles about it, the local shrine elevated her to a god. She’s now the Eternal Stationmaster and patron god of the station.


    Now I’m crying thanks


    and a new cat was hired right?


    yep! her name is Nitama (essentially ”second tama” or “tama II”) and she served under Tama as an apprentice before being appointed her deputy

    she works very hard


    Everytime this crosses my dash, I reblog. It is the law.


    I’m crying at 11pm over train cats


    Nitama, already now a mature cat (born 2010), has a protege named Yontama (fourth Tama, b. 2016).  There is no information available for either the physical befellment or tragic self-disgrace which has removed Santama from contention.


    ^Nitama majestic, and below with Yontama




    a legacy


    okay but actually what happened to santama (or sun-tama-tama, which is her name because it’s a pun on santama) was that she was basically sent to train for the position in okayama and they liked her so much they refused to send her back


    “Sun-tama-tama” (a pun off of “Santama”, lit. “third Tama”) was a calico cat sent for training in Okayama. Sun-tama-tama was considered as a candidate for Tama’s successor, but the Okayama Public Relations representative who had been caring for Sun-tama-tama refused to give the cat up writing, “I will not let go of this child, she will stay in Okayama.” [25]

    As of September 2018, Sun-tama-tama is working as the stationmaster in Naka-ku, Okayama and appears occasionally on Tama’s Twitter account.


    Every time I see this post there’s new info and it gets better


    You are only allowed to scroll pass this after you pay tribute to the great Tama Station masters.


    The shrine of Tama Daimyōjin (Great gracious deity Tama), next to the Kishi station where she worked.


    Nitama presenting her yearly offerings to Tama Daimyōjin on the anniversary of Tama’s Death, June 23 (The offerings are presented by the company president, as Nitama is a cat and thus can’t hold the offerings herself) (Not pictured, but also present, Yontama)


    you cannot pass without reblogging guys. i’m sorry, i don’t make the rules.


    You don’t have to reblog this. But I will.


    I love this saga.


    I started crying but it is beautiful


    OFOTD #364

    Owl limpets, a type of mullosc, are able to "garden" algae around themselves on the rocks they settle on by pushing away other animals that may graze on a set patch of algae with either the anterior part of their shell or their radula (or tongue). When grazing on this set patch of algae, they will keep it at at least one millimeter thick so that it grows back. The "gardens" are usually around 900 square centimeters in area.


    Yet another animal farmer.