In honor of Rich's collecting trip to Haiti, which begins this week, I thought I'd do a little post on a creature that's even more elusive than Anolis dolichocephalus and which graced the pages of last week's Science: the solenodon. Solenodons are very unusual mammals - they are venomous, injecting it with their teeth, like snakes. They are also likely to be critically endangered - but it's hard to say since hardly anyone has ever seen one. In 2007, biologist Samuel Turvey went looking for them on Hispaniola for 11 days and found remains of just 3 dead ones (one of which had apparently been gnawed on by a hungry Haitian). A new survey to be conducted this October will try to get a better handle on the distribution of and threats to the solenodon as well as to do molecular phylogenetic work to help to unravel its taxonomy and population structure.
Dechronization is authored by evolutionary biologists interested in the development and application of methods for estimating phylogeny and making phylogeny-based inferences. The goal of the blog is to provide a forum for discussion of the latest research and methods, while also providing anecdotes, tidbits of natural history, and other related information.