FIRST UP: No.1 seed Dugong (Dugong dugon) vs No. 8 Musk Deer (Moschus moschiferus). Teamwork battle by myself & @MarcKissel (& a great assist from @Mammals_Suck), with genetics info from @sexchrlab & @StoneLab_ASU #2021MMM Image of a Dugong floating vertically in the water on the le
Although our two combatants may seem really different (one being obligate aquatic in tropical, marine waters & the other terrestrial in mountain forests), they do have one thing in common......TUSKS #2021MMM Image of Dugong skull on left, Musk Deer skull on right, bot
Dugong tusks are elongated second incisors, similar to elephants (remember, Dugongs & Elephants are close relatives!). Tusks are found in all adult males (& mature females). Take a spin on @Sketchfab to have a look:… #2021MMM
Dugong & the extinct Steller Sea Cow, diverged ~28 MYA. Analysis of the enamelin gene shows positive selection in the stem dugongid branch perhaps in conjunction w/changes in the feeding apparatus including extensive tooth loss (like elephants!)… #2021MMM Phylogenetic tree of Afrotheria showing the results of a mol
#ActualLivingScientist Janet Lanyon ( & colleagues have also found that Dugong tusks are used in social interactions often resulting in visible injury Burgess et al. 2013… & Lanyon et al. 2021… #2021MMM Text directly from the Lanyon et al. (2021) publication: Var
Musk deer's face looks like a kangaroo's...well except for its vampire teeth which, in males, ranges 7–10 cm in length!!!! (Sathyakumar et al 2015) #2021MMM
@Sketchfab has 3D & spinning Musk Deer skulls…. In this case, the tusks are canines & males use them in social interactions to acquire mates #2021MMM
Musk Deer get their name from musk produced by males to attract mates. This musk is highly sought after:
"The small Kastura, most archaic of deer,
Were driven in herds to cram the hunters' net
And slaughtered for the musk-pods which they bear"… #2021MMM"
Sought after musk is one reason for Musk Deer decline. Recently, the whole genome of our Musk Deer, Moschus moschiferus, was sequenced (total size of 3.1 billion base pairs, similar to humans), which will provide helpful data for conservation… #2021MMM Venn diagram of overlapping gene content between musk deer,
Dugong is in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area inner reef (…), not too far from shore. This is a happy place for Dugong, as recent work suggests over ~2800 fellow dugongs are found here (#s are on the rise from 2011!) Sobtzick et al 2017 #2021MMM Group of Dugongs swimming in the ocean
You know who is not happy? Musk deer! Musk deer have evolved long central hooves & an enlarged dewclaw to let them walk on steep ground & climb on slanted tree trunks & avoid sinking in the snow (Sathyakumar et al 2015). Watch him walk: #2021MMM
Dugong uses his trunk to scrape vegetation off the sea floor. This adaptation is helpful since sea grass is not that nutritious. Adults have to eat 70 lbs of the grass a day. Thus, "Feeding is the predominant activity of the dugong" (Husar 1978) [gif is dugong eating] #2021MMM
Dugong looks up above him, angling his tusks at the now swimming artiodacyl just above him #2021MMM
Musk Deer directs his head & tusks downwards & notices the dark, slow-moving blob just beneath him #DeathFromBelow? #2021MMM
Musk Deer decides it's best to avoid the blob & swims towards nearby land (the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest tropical rainforest in the world) through salty, SALTY-infested waters #2021MMM Image is a saltwater crocodile, or "Saltie", just

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More from @je_light

12 Mar
FIRST UP: No.1 seed Dugong (Dugong dugon) vs No. 16 seed Colo Colo Opossum (Dromiciops gliroides). Genetics tweets for this battle provided by the awesome @sexchrlab #2021MMM Picture of a dugong on the left.  It is a large grey marine
Dugongs are found in tropical, marine waters of the eastern hemisphere oceans. These large mammals (3m long, 300kg) never come out of the water; they are obligate, aquatic specialists #2021MMM Map of range of the dugong with areas it lives highlighted.
Dugongs are 1 of 2 living genera within the order Sirenia. The other living genus is Trichechus, or Manatees (a #2019MMM combatant!). Tricksy taxonomy: what in the world are Sirenians? Where do they belong in the mammal phylogenetic tree? #2021MMM
Read 16 tweets
11 Mar
NEXT UP: No.5 seed Red Brocket (Mazama americana) vs No. 12 seed Siberian Weasel (Mustela sibirica) #2021MMM
GET THIS: Red Brocket is RED! This South American deer species is reddish-brown in coloration across most of its body, perfect for camouflage in dense, tropical forests #2021MMM
Red Brockets are the biggest of the Mazama cervids. Our male Red Brocket is ~4.3 stoats long (145 cm) & he's dense weighing in at 30 kg (136 stoats) #StoatsAsMeasurement #2021MMM
Read 18 tweets
13 Mar 20
LAST UP: No. 8 seed Finlayson's Squirrel (Callosciurus finlaysonii) vs No. 9 seed Kowari (Dasyuroides byrnei) #2020MMM
Finlayson's Squirrel is our 3rd #TeamRodent of the night. These "beautiful squirrels" (but aren't they all??) are quite lovely with highly variable coat colors ranging from all white to all black to all red (Boonkhaw et al. 2017 #2020MMM
In fact, Callosciurus is Greek for beautiful ('callo'), shadow ('skia'), & tail ('oura') (Borror 1960 Finlayson's Squirrel are #smol squirrels (1.3 stoats #StoatsAsMeasurements), found in the trees (arboreal) in southeast Asia rainforests #2020MMM
Read 18 tweets
12 Mar 20
FIRST UP: No.1 seed Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) vs No. 16 seed & wildcard winner Pygmy Spotted Skunk (Spilogale pygmaea) #2020MMM
Our #TeamDogsish Pygmy Spotted Skunk is a #smol skunk, blackish-brown in color w/creamy-buff longitudinal stripes over most of the body. The genus name Spilogale is derived from the Greek "spilos" (spot) and "gale" (weasel) (Kinlaw 1995 #2020MMM
The Pygmy Spotted Skunk is @IUCNRedList vulnerable due to rapid human encroachment on their Pacific Mexican habitat, hunting, & predation by CATS AND DOGS! #IntraOrderCarnage… #2020MMM
Read 13 tweets
26 Mar 19
NEXT UP: #1 Plains Zebra (Equus quagga) & Yellow-Billed Oxpecker (Buphagus africanus) vs #8 seed Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) & Aardvark Cucumber (Cucumis humifructus) #2019MMM
In Round 1, Oxpecker (& Zebra) picked off the Batfly (& Gammaproteobacteria). Aardvark & Cucurbit advanced against #Tripletrouble monkeys in an epic #BeastieBoys Battle #2019MMM
Why do Zebras have stripes? Scientists had thought these stripes were anti-predator devices, making it difficult for predators to cue in on 1 individual among the herd (called disruptive coloration) #2019MMM
Read 23 tweets
22 Mar 19
NEXT UP: #5 seed Beaver (Rodentia: Castor canadensis) vs #13 seed Rakali (Rodentia: Hydromys chrysogaster). It's #TeamRodent vs #TeamRodent! #2019MMM
In Waterfalls Round 1, Beaver tail slap sent Mink circuitously for a muskrat meal. A poacher's gunshot took out Peccary & Rakali advanced #2019MMM
Beavers influence entire ecosystems, even in the face of wildfires. #ActualLivingScientist @EmilyFairfax reveals how busy Beavers engineer an ecosystem: #2019MMM
Read 19 tweets

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