Thursday, July 22, 2010

Building a desmostylian.

UCMP short description
Something a little more entertaining
This is Desumon, a cartoon desmostylian that was created by a natural history museum in Japan to help introduce the Desmostylia to the public. Desmostylians are very popular in Japan, which is just another sign of their cultural advancement, in my opinion. I mean, there has to be a correlation between the quality of their science and math education and the preponderance of desmostylians in popular culture.

Check out a skeleton, their limb bones are absolutely grotesque. Aww, so ugly it's cute. I'll save the ranting about how little literature on paleo mammals seems to be accessible to the general public (I have god knows how many dinosaur books, but for mammals there is very little to choose from.) I know lots of people think mammals are super boring, but I love them even though they don't make much sense. Litoptern wha?

Expecting to make it fancier soon.


  1. The reconstructions don't exactly emphasize its SPEED, do they? Those low-strung haunches would make it difficult to get away from wonder it went extinct XD

    Oh is there really any correlation btn the no. of Desumons and the quality of sc./math education? It's more like their predilection for turning everything into kawaii XD

  2. Yeah, I have no idea. Ask that guy. :P But at least they KNOW about desmostylus.

    I'd take a few of those reconstructions with a grain of salt. XD

  3. Not quibbling over the reconstruction(s), my inexpert eye knows nothing about building animals from the bone up. :D It's interesting that a couple of artists drew it as seal-like.

    Yeah, no what I meant was the splayed hind limbs on those reconsts. in the 2nd link don't look very land-efficient. But if it was semiaquatic, it makes sense..i think?

  4. Oh, I know what you mean. I just kinda took what I could from the pics I could find, and mostly referencing a skeletal mount for the angle on the hind legs. It's a debate as to how their posture in life was. I'm not sure if anyone has seriously studied the mechanics of their joint articulations though. And they're pretty much assumed to be semi-aquatic, like hippos. SO they'd have less need to run around on land.

  5. So much is putative and open to debate, as the blogger there says.

    I went through the ToL website you've linked at the side wondering if it could be recommended to someone...but lost my place pretty soon D:

    It's a GREAT project, but how useful is it for layppl who do want an up to date and reasonably comprehensive ToL diagram without getting lost in the branches? Any thoughts?

  6. Up to date... well that's a tough one really, b/c the whole thing is so incredibly labyrinthine. If you start from the major phyla like Archaeobacteria, Metazoa etc you're going to get pretty lost because as you go down the tree you'll hit the larger categories most people haven't read about like Deuterostomia, Craniata, Metatheria etc.

    Check if this site is less unwieldy? has a simpler interface I think, and alphabetical lists and such. I just linked to chordates so you can see an easy list of the main groups that are identifiable. Good times!!! XD

  7. First link looks good. Thanks.