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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Animal Cross Redux Answered

Chase, from Odyssey of Time (nice blog, check it out), guessed the answer for this puzzle. See below for what amazing animal this picture represents.


If one thinks about cliff-diving geese, nothing fits the bill better than barnacle geese, also known as Branta leucopsis. They live in the North Atlantic and can be found along the coasts and islands around Greenland, the United Kingdom, and most recently in the Baltic Sea around some of the Nordic countries.

"Barnacle-Goose" by Andreas Trepte - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

“Barnacle-Goose” by Andreas Trepte – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

The day they are born they face a daunting task. To protect the eggs from predators, the adults make their nest high up on cliff faces, oftentimes 400 feet (150m) above the base of the cliff. Unfortunately, the food is at the bottom of the cliff and the parents do not bring food to the chicks. So what is a hungry newborn to do? They jump.

It’s a rough life. Between the dangers of the fall, the predatory birds above, and the foxes below. they are fortunate is half of the chicks survive their first day. Personally, I don’t see how any of them survive. The fall is just brutal. Listen carefully to the video and you can hear the chick squeak as it hits the rocks repeatedly on the way down. Amazingly, the chick just brushes itself off and carries on, a little dazed, but seemingly no worse for wear.

Sir John Mandeville, in the 14th century, had an interesting view of them. According to Sir Mandeville, “in our country were trees that bear a fruit that become birds flying, and those that fell in the water live, and they that fall on the earth die anon, and they be right good to man’s meat. And hereof had they as great marvel, that some of them trowed it were an impossible thing to be.”

British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 36r as posted by The Medieval Bestiary

British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 36r as posted by The Medieval Bestiary





Animal Crosses Redux

it is truly amazing how easy it is to completely fall out of a routine if you break it for any stretch of time. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it is also often just as easy to fall back into it. in this case, I am hoping it will be easy to get back into writing for Paleoaerie after my unexpected extended break. There is much that will be coming as soon as I can. most notably the recordings of talks I gave at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, AR in the past month or so. One is on engineering a dinosaur, given just in time for the opening of Jurassic World. Speaking of Jurassic World, it is a great monster movie, as long as one is not looking for accuracy in its dinosaurs. But as the geneticist in the movie states, the real dinosaurs would have looked considerably different, but they wanted bigger, scarier, with more teeth. The other talk is on Arkansas fossils and why we need a natural history museum in Arkansas.

For now, I will just leave you with this puzzle. The pictures represent one of my favorite extant animals, simply because their young are so incredibly amazing. Leave your guesses in the comments section and stay tuned for the answer.