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World Cup: Slovenia’s Beech Marten (Martes foina)
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Number 0323 The World Cup continues and so do the mammals! Today we have a beech marten from Slovenia. Also called the stone marten, the beech marten is pretty widespread in Europe and Asia. It lives in forests, nests in cozy crevices and hollows, and eats rodents, birds and their eggs, and berries. In researching the beech marten, I learned a new word: commensal,...

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World Cup: Algeria’s Barbary Macaque (Macaca sylvanus)
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Number 0322 The World Cup is swinging right along, and we’re celebrating with a look at the mammals of the 32 countries competing in the tournament. Today we’re in Algeria, where they have these monkeys, see, the Barbary macaques. They live in the forests of Algeria and Morocco, and there’s also a population in Gibraltar, making them the only primates that live freely in...

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World Cup: USA’s American Badger (Taxidea taxus)
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Number 0321 Do you realize that I’m currently on my longest-ever mammal streak? Three weeks and counting. I’m sure it’s bound to break any day now, so let’s continue enjoying the mammals from the 32 countries competing in the World Cup. Today it’s my own home, the USA, and the American badger, which I admit I picked because I regretted that I already drew...

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World Cup: England’s European Beaver (Castor fiber)
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Number 0320 So I somehow picked a mammal for England that’s been extinct in England for, oh, about 400 years or so. Yep. The European beaver was hunted nearly to extinction by the 20th century, and no longer existed in most countries of Europe. Now it’s being reintroduced, and it has successfully regained a place in a couple dozen European countries, such as Denmark...

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World Cup: Nigeria’s African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
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Number 0319 We’re still celebrating the World Cup here at the Daily Mammal, and today we’re closing out Group B with Nigeria and the African bush elephant. These days, scientists generally divide the African elephant into two species, the bush elephant and the forest elephant. Then there’s the Asian elephant, for a total of three kinds of elephants in the world. The biggest is...

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World Cup: Argentina’s Patagonian Mara (Dolichotis patagonum)
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Number 0318 To celebrate the World Cup, I’m drawing and writing about one mammal from each of the 32 countries that are participating. Those 32 countries are divided into eight groups, and today we continue meeting Group B with a visit to Argentina. The Patagonian mara is a long-legged rodent that lives only in Argentina, and it’s one of only a handful of monogamous...

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World Cup: Greece’s Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus euryale)
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Number 0317 The Daily Mammal is celebrating the World Cup in the only way we can: by visiting with one mammal from each of the 32 participating countries. Today, let’s go to Greece! The Mediterranean horseshoe bat lives, yes, around the Mediterranean Sea, including in that land of olives and capers, Greece. The most pressing question about this bat is what’s up with that...

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World Cup: South Korea’s Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis)
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Number 0316 Having dispensed with the countries of Group A, let’s start looking at the World Cup’s Group B with South Korea and its leopard cat. The leopard cat is a small wild cat—generally not much bigger than a housecat—that’s widespread throughout Asia. The subspecies in Korea, Prionailurus bengalensis euptailurus, is one of the bigger subspecies, and actually looks pretty different from most of...

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World Cup: France’s Alpine Marmot (Marmota marmota)
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Number 0315 Hello mammals! To celebrate the World Cup, we’re meeting one mammal from each of the 32 countries that are playing. Today we visit France, the last member of the wide-open Group A, who played to a 0–0 draw against Uruguay last and will face Mexico tomorrow. France is one of the top-ranked teams in the tournament, having won the World Cup in...

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World Cup: Uruguay’s Coypu (Myocastor coypus)
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Number 0314 Today we go a little further in our look at the mammals of the countries competing in the World Cup. Meet the coypu—you may also know it as the nutria—who is representing Uruguay. It’s a semi-aquatic rodent native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, but it didn’t stay in those southern South American countries. Because of its warm and pretty...

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World Cup: Mexican Gray Squirrel (Sciurus aureogaster)
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Number 0313 To celebrate the World Cup, I’m drawing one mammal from each of the 32 competing countries. Today’s is the Mexican gray squirrel, also called the Mexican red-bellied squirrel, a busy little guy who is native to the treetops of both Mexico and Guatemala. (Guatemala’s national soccer team has never qualified for the World Cup.) The Mexican gray squirrel, like all other squirrels,...

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World Cup: South Africa’s Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus)
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Number 0312 The World Cup started this past Friday, and I’m into it, partly because of this Nike commercial and partly because of this book (Cosmopolitanism by Kwame Anthony Appiah, which I enthusiastically recommend), which has me convinced of the importance of being a true citizen of the world. The international soccer/football tournament happens every four years, and this time, it’s in South Africa—the...

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Mammals of Alaska Week: Fisher (Martes pennanti)
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Number 0269 Fishers live only in North America, and currently only in northern North America, from Alaska and Canada down to the Sierra Nevadas and the Appalachians. At one time, they ranged as far south as Tennessee and North Carolina, but they’ve disappeared from much of their historic range because of excessive trapping and habitat loss from logging. Fishers don’t get their name because...

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Mammals of Alaska Week: Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus)
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Number 0268 Snowshoe hares live in Canada and the northern United States. Their name comes from their amazingly adapted hind feet, which are large and broad with a stiff coat of hair that lets them walk on top of snow. Their other impressive adaptation is their coloring. In the summer, they’re reddish brown, but when fall comes, they begin molting, replacing their brown fur...

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Mammals of Alaska Week: Thinhorn (Dall) Sheep (Ovis dalli)
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Number 0267 The thinhorn sheep is closely related to the bighorn sheep, only its horns are more thin than big. (Another relative of the two is the snow sheep, which lives in Siberia.) There’s a bit of nomenclatural confusion with these guys. Never mind that some scientists think that all members of Ovis should actually be in Capra (the goats). The specific issue with...

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Mammals of Alaska Week: Bearded Seal (Erignathus barbatus)
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Number 0266 We continue our visit with the mammals of Alaska today, with this guy, the bearded seal. Like the bearded pig, he’s really more mustachioed than bearded, but that’s okay. Bearded seals live throughout the arctic. They eat mostly benthic creatures, which means creatures that live at the bottom of the water. That’s probably what their long, brushy whiskers are for: helping them...

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Mammals of Alaska Week: Muskox (Ovibos moschatus)
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Number 0265 To honor (if that’s the word) Sarah Palin’s stepping down as governor as Alaska, let’s meet some of the mammals of the 49th state. (Because yesterday’s beluga whale lives in Alaska, I took the liberty of retroactively including it in this theme week, which I only just thought of.) The muskox’s scientific name means “musky sheep-cow.” DNA analysis suggests that it’s more...

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Scientific Names Week: Indian Palm Squirrel (Funambulus palmarum)
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Number 0255 The Indian palm squirrel is a funambulist of the palms! Thinking of the words somnambulist or ambulatory, you can almost come close to figuring out what that means: a fun walker! Sort of. A funambulist is a tightrope walker (funis is Latin for rope; the word fun, on the other hand, comes from the Middle English fon, meaning fool, and this squirrel...

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Scientific Names Week: Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus)
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Number 0254 The nilgai is an antelope that lives in India and parts of Nepal and Pakistan. For an antelope, it has a weird scientific name: Boselaphus tragocamelus means ox-deer-goat-camel. Perhaps they just really didn’t know and wanted to hedge their bets. The word nilgai comes from a Hindi word meaning “blue bull.” (The male nilgai’s bluish gray hide reminds me of grulla, my...

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Scientific Names Week: Little Red Kaluta (Dasykaluta rosamondae)
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Number 0253 This little marsupial is widespread in the desert of northwestern Australia, where it likes to eat insects and small vertebrates. The young are born in November, and they’re old enough to mate by the time kaluta mating season rolls around the following September. Sadly, all males die shortly after the mating season, apparently from the stress of competing for females! In this...

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Scientific Names Week: Olive Baboon (Papio anubis)
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Number 0252 The olive baboon lives in a wide swath of land across the middle of Africa. It’s one of those rare mammals that not only is safe from extinction, but whose numbers seem to be growing. Let’s all celebrate that ’cause it gets depressing around here, doesn’t it? Papio in the baboon’s scientific name comes from a French word for baboon (according to...

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Scientific Names Week: Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)
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Number 0251 Our current system of naming animals and plants is based on the system that Carl Linnaeus published in 1758. While others, including Aristotle, had previously attempted to organize the world’s living things into various arrangements, Linnaeus gave us an important innovation: the binomial system. Each animal (or plant or whatever) is known by a unique pair of names; no other creature has...

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Scientific Names Week: Cotton-top Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus)
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Number 0250 I love words and names for things, and I’ve enjoyed learning a little Latin and Greek as I draw these mammals. Let’s spend a few days meeting some mammals with interesting scientific names, starting with this wild-and-woolly tamarin. The cotton-top part of his common name is apt, but what about Saguinus oedipus? Saguinus means “like a squirrel monkey,” which is straightforward. The...

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Coffee Achievers Days: Formosan Rock Macaque (Macaca cyclopis)
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The Daily Mammal Book Club discussion of My Family and Other Animals is in full swing! Number 0244 Here’s one last Coffee Achiever: the Formosan rock macaque, who eats coffee berries and spits out the pits, like you and I would do with cherries. Supposedly, people roast the spit-out coffee beans and sell the coffee for big bucks. I’m just glad to know that...

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Coffee Achievers Days: Reeves’s Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)
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Beginning March 16: the Daily Mammal Book Club!   Number 0243 “Yesterday” (ahem…), we met the common palm civet, from whose droppings we get kopi luwak, coffee made from the seeds that pass through the civets’ digestive systems when they eat coffee berries. Whether this really creates some kind of gourmet delicacy or it’s actually a crazy scam to get people to spend lots...

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Coffee Achievers Days: Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus)
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Beginning March 16: the Daily Mammal Book Club!   Number 0242 Here is a common palm civet, which is also called an Asian palm civet or a toddy-cat. That second name comes from the civet’s supposed habit of drinking the palm wine, or toddy, that people had left in cups to ferment, or possibly eating or drinking naturally fermented palm fruits. I wonder if...

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Darwin Days: Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)
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  Number 0240 Tonight, we conclude our celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday with one last look at a mammal he wrote about in The Origin of Species. Although Darwin’s work is widely available for free online (see The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, and you’re probably all set), I still find it easier and more satisfying to thumb through an actual book....

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Darwin Days: American Mink (Neovison vison or Mustela vison)
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Number 0239 Welcome, readers of the Blog for Darwin blog carnival! (A blog carnival is a collection of posts from different blogs but on the same topic. I’m participating in one that compiles posts related to Darwin today through the 15th. Click the link above to read some of the other bloggers’ posts.) At the Daily Mammal, we’re celebrating Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday (today!...

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Darwin Days: Lion (Panthera leo)
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Number 0238 It’s quite fashionable to equate the theory of evolution with Charles Darwin himself. Science magazines and books sell with covers blaring “Darwin Was Wrong,” “Was Darwin Wrong?,” and “What Darwin Got Wrong.” Meanwhile, intelligent-design and creationism proponents attack “Darwinism,” and the New York Times publishes “Darwinism Must Die So That Evolution May Live” and “Let’s Get Rid of Darwinism.” By creating an...

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Darwin Days: Tuco-Tucos Six Ways (Ctenomys spp.)
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Numbers 0232, 0233, 0234, 0235, 0236, and 0237 The day after tomorrow, February 12, 2009, is Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. (It’s also Abraham Lincoln’s.) I’ve recently begun reading Darwin’s The Origin of Species, and I’ve decided to try to do a little something in celebration of Darwin’s immense contribution. I’m going to be highlighting a few mammals that Darwin discusses in The Origin of...

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Hibernators Week: Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus)
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Number 0231 Today is the last day of Hibernators Week at the Daily Mammal, so I’d like to introduce you to a bear, that classic hibernator. This particular bear is an Asiatic black bear. It lives in forests in several countries in southern Asia, including China, Japan, Iran, and Pakistan, among others. In the northern parts of its range, it hibernates, filling up on...

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Hibernators Week: Chipmunks Six Ways (Tamias spp.)
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Numbers 0225, 0226, 0227, 0228, 0229, and 0230 In one sense, I got lazy with this drawing, doing it in sharpie on top of my pencil with no shading, no blending, no colored pencil, and it’s on my tracing paper sketch instead of a nice crisp sheet of vellum. No furry details, no crazy colors. But if you knew how long I researched it...

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