Readers’ wildlife photos

Here’s another batch from Steve Pinker’s trip to Uganda. I gather he’s back from Tasmania now, so expect some photos from there. The captions are Pinkah’s

A yawning Chlorocebus pygerythrus, aka vervet:

yawning vervet-L

Eye contact with Chamaeleonidae (not sure which of the 160 species this is [JAC: can readers help?]):

eye contact with chameleon-L

Happy hippo family (Hippopotamus amphibius):

happy hippo family-L

Collared lion (Panthera leo) on a mound:

collared lion on mound playing w other lions-L

Grass stem with a Southern Red Bishop (Euplectes orix): [JAC: the source of the name is obvious!]

grass stem w red bishop-L

Here’s a short video of one building a grass nest (Wikipedia notes that males build several nests at the start of the breeding season to attract females.

It still amazes me that the construction of such elaborate nests is hard-wired in its genome, since birds can do it without learning. Somehow in the configuration of neurons and molecules in its tiny brain is a program, written by natural selection, that produces this behavior:

For you birders, there are a lot more Pinker bird photos to come.



  1. BilBy
    Posted July 30, 2014 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Young flap-necked chameleon, Chameleo dilepis (I think)

    • Aaron Siek
      Posted July 30, 2014 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      I would maybe go with Trioceros bitaeniatus, I think (here’s a pic of a captive-bred individual: ). It’s a handsome lizard, in any case!

      • Posted July 30, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think it’s a flap-neck (the juveniles of which have a broken or spotty top stripe, and this one is continuous). Seconding the vote for Trioceros bitaeniatus.

  2. Erik Verbruggen
    Posted July 30, 2014 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    The vervet monkey is very polite, the way he holds his hand in front of its mouth…. I am very curious if this is common in animals. To me it definitely doesn’t come instinctively when yawning, and would thus fall under taught behavior.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 30, 2014 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      I noticed that too! I don’t know if the gesture was a coincidence or if our fellow primate intended it.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted July 30, 2014 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      Might be a mimicked behavior. I cannot think of an adaptive value. Keeping the bugs from flying in?

  3. Matt G
    Posted July 30, 2014 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    It looks like the vervet has been reading too many books on theology.

  4. Posted July 30, 2014 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    Wonderful photos! I miss East Africa… Weaver Birds’ nests are even more fascinating, and there are those Kalahari Social weavers who build a sort of large communal nest that is like an apartment building in which each bird has its nest, and there is like a thatched roof that protects the nests inside from the rain. These communal “buildings” can be huge and house an impressive number of birds.


  5. Posted July 30, 2014 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Also worth commenting on is the extraordinary width of the opening mouth of that yawning vervet.

    People who have the most exercise in opening their mouth and the most developed muscle (the lateral pterygoid) are opera singers. Some, especially female singers, can open their mouth to the maximum without undue fatigue. None approaches the enormous width of that vervet’s mouth.
    Truly stupendous. The more so if you measure the ratio of the opening to say the height of the face.
    For instance measure the maximum opening of Pavarotti’s mouth (for a male singer) and of Waltraud Meier’s mouth (for a female singer).

  6. Posted July 30, 2014 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on minnealaskan and commented:
    Very cool

  7. Scientifik
    Posted July 30, 2014 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos… but sadly I cannot fully appreciate them at the moment, as I am still recovering from reading this article 😦

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 30, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      I shouldn’t have clicked…Maru got me and I had to enter. Showtime has a series called “Years of Living Dangerously” which is about climate change and I highly recommend. One of the episodes covered the disastrous palm oil industry in Indonesia. Just mind boggling and heart breaking.

      • Scientifik
        Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        How can we be doing this to our simian cousins? :/ They have absolutely no way of defending themselves against us :/

        Thank you for the info about the Showtime documentary. Glad they are bringing this to the world’s attention.

        This ‘primate genocide’ has to stop!!

        • Posted July 31, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

          Human greed will finally destroy the planet. We have become parasites, the type of parasite that ultimately kills its host and itself in the process. 😦

  8. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 30, 2014 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    I have a fondness for the hands of chameleons. Those cute fingers!

    I love the sight lines of the lions – what a great capture!

  9. Pete Moulton
    Posted July 30, 2014 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Lovely photographs! As a longtime birder, I’m one of those anxiously awaiting the good Doctah’s avian work.

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