SquaMates Ep. 17: Malayopython and the Glowing Tail

A totally serious herpetological podcast

SquaMates Ep. 17: Malayopython and the Glowing Tail

We’re back with Episode 17! In this Breaking Newts episode, the Mates, Dr Mark D. Scherz, Gabriel Ugueto, and Ethan Kocak, talk about the coolest new research in herpetology and Gabriel’s extremely squeaky chair! Featuring a few controversial new bits of science, some amazing turtles, diverse salamanders, and glowing, bony amphibians!

Episode notes sometimes get clipped on your device or by your podcast provider; for full (extensive) notes (and references), go to http://www.squamatespod.com

A note: this episode was recorded on the 24th of April 2020, a time when most of humanity seemed united in their fight against a common enemy, the coronavirus COVID-19. In the meantime, another enemy of humanity has been brought into the limelight that, by its very nature, divides. That enemy is racism. The experiences of Christian Cooper highlight how people of colour may be treated when engaging in field sciences like ornithology or herpetology, and similar stories are being heard from people of colour across social media (e.g. see the #BlackInNature tag on twitter). We must strive to make field-based sciences like herpetology inclusive of people of colour, and to fight racism wherever we encounter it in order to disassemble the systematic discrimination that plagues our fields and our societies. We at the SquaMates podcast stand firmly behind the BlackLivesMatter movement.

Episode Citations

Anole Online Learning Resources

Xing, L., O’Connor, J.K., Schmitz, L., Chiappe, L.M., McKellar, R.C., Yi, Q. & Li, G. (2020) Hummingbird-sized dinosaur from the Cretaceous period of Myanmar. Nature, 579:245–249. 10.1038/s41586-020-2068-4 — Darren Naish has done a great job of first writing about this in its original interpretation, and then updating his article to explain the ethical and phylogenetic problems associated with the paper. On the 29th of May, 2020, an editor’s note was added to the paper, that reads ‘Readers are alerted that doubts have been expressed about the phylogenetic placement of the fossil described in this paper. We are investigating and appropriate editorial action will be taken once this matter is resolved.’

Breuil M, Schikorski D, Vuillaume B, Krauss U, Morton MN, Corry E, Bech N, Jelić M, Grandjean F (2020) Painted black: Iguana melanoderma (Reptilia, Squamata, Iguanidae) a new melanistic endemic species from Saba and Montserrat islands (Lesser Antilles). ZooKeys, 926:95-131. 10.3897/zookeys.926.48679

Vargas-Ramírez, M., Caballero, S., Morales-Betancourt, M.A., Lasso, C.A., Amaya, L., Gregorio Martínez, J., das Neves Silva Viana, M., Vogt, R.C., Pires Farias, I., Hrbek, T., Campbell, P.D. & Fritz, U. (2020) Genomic analyses reveal two species of the matamata (Testudines: Chelidae: Chelus spp.) and clarify their phylogeography. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 106823. 10.1016/j.ympev.2020.106823

Sánchez-Villagra, M.R., Pritchard, P.C.H., Paolillo, A. & Linares, O.J. (1995) Geographic variation in the matamata turtle, Chelus fimbriatus, with observations on its shell morphology and morphometry. Chelonian Conservation and Biology, 1(4):293–300.

Here is the Tetrapod Zoology blog by Darren Naish about Matamata mentioned in the episode, which was the basis of this comic by Ethan!

Lamb, J.Y. & Davis, M.P. (2020) Salamanders and other amphibians are aglow with biofluorescence. Scientific Reports, 10:2821. 10.1038/s41598-020-59528-9

Jaramillo, A.F., De La Riva, I., Guayasamin, J.M., Chaparro, J.C., Gagliardi-Urrutia, G., Gutiérrez, R.C., Brcko, I., Vilà, C. & Castroviejo-Fisher, S. (2020) Vastly underestimated species richness of Amazonian salamanders (Plethodontidae: Bolitoglossa) and implications about plethodontid diversification. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 149:106841. 10.1016/j.ympev.2020.106841

Vieites, D.R., Wollenberg, K.C., Andreone, F., Köhler, J., Glaw, F. & Vences, M. (2009) Vast underestimation of Madagascar’s biodiversity evidenced by an integrative amphibian inventory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 106(20):8267–8272. 10.1073/pnas.0810821106

Rovito, S.M., Parra-Olea, G., Hanken, J., Bonett, R.M. & Wake, D.B. (2013) Adaptive radiation in miniature: the minute salamanders of the Mexican highlands (Amphibia: Plethodontidae: Thorius). Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society, 109:622–643.

Yoshida, T., Ujiie, R., Savitzky, A.H., Jono, T., Inoue, T., Yoshinaga, N., Aburaya, S., Aoki, W., Takeuchi, H., Ding, L., Chen, Q., Cao, C., Tsai, T.-S., Silva, A.d., Mahaulpatha, D., Nguyen, T.T., Tang, Y., Mori, N. & Mori, A. (2020) Dramatic dietary shift maintains sequestered toxins in chemically defended snakes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 117:5964. 10.1073/pnas.1919065117

Paluh, D.J., Stanley, E.L. & Blackburn, D.C. (2020) Evolution of hyperossification expands skull diversity in frogs. Proceedings of the national Academy of Sciences of the USA, 117:8554. 10.1073/pnas.2000872117

Jared, C., Mailho-Fontana, Pedro L., Antoniazzi, Marta M., Mendes, Vanessa A., Barbaro, Katia C., Rodrigues, Miguel T. & Brodie, Edmund D., Jr. (2015) Venomous Frogs Use Heads as Weapons. Current Biology, 25(16):2166–2170. 10.1016/j.cub.2015.06.061

Interestingly, there is probably a third species we did not know about: Cajade, R., Hermida, G., Piñeiro, J.M., Regueira, E., Alcalde, L., Fusco, L.S. & Marangoni, F. (2017) Multiple anti-predator mechanisms in the red-spotted Argentina Frog (Amphibia: Hylidae). Journal of Zoology, 302(2):94–107. 10.1111/jzo.12439 — thanks to Dan Paluh (@danpaluh) for bringing that to our attention on twitter!

Esquerré, D., Donnellan, S., Brennan, I.G., Lemmon, A.R., Lemmon, E.M., Zaher, H., Grazziotin, F.G. & Keogh, J.S. (in press) Phylogenomics, biogeography and morphometrics reveal rapid phenotypic evolution in pythons after crossing Wallace’s line. Systematic Biology. 10.1093/sysbio/syaa024

Sandoval, M.T., Ruiz García, J.A. & Álvarez, B.B. (2020) Intrauterine and post-ovipositional embryonic development of Amerotyphlops brongersmianus (Vanzolini, 1976) (Serpentes: Typhlopidae) from northeastern Argentina. Journal of Morphology, 281:523–535. 10.1002/jmor.21119

Simison, W.B., Parham, J.F., Papenfuss, T.J., Lam, A.W. & Henderson, J.B. (in press) An annotated chromosome-level reference genome of the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans). Genome Biology and Evolution. 10.1093/gbe/evaa063

Grundler, M.C. (2020) SquamataBase: a natural history database and R package for comparative biology of snake feeding habits. Biodiversity Data Journal, 8:e49943. 10.3897/BDJ.8.e49943


Yara Haridy: @yara_haridy

Darren Naish: @tetzooThe Tetzoo Blog

Follow the show and the hosts on social media!

SquaMates: website • twitter • instagram • facebook

Mark D. Scherz: website • twitter • instagram • tumblr • facebook • researchgate • redbubble

Gabriel Ugueto: website • twitter • instagram • facebook • redbubble

Ethan Kocak: website • twitter • tumblr • facebookpatreon

One Response

  1. llewelly says:

    wrt to the “bird” (well actually lepidosaur maybe) in amber, the whole fiasco reminds me that, if you ignore bad ethics for the sake of the neat sciences, you often get bad science.

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