The Wild Episode now has its very own Facebook page.
If you go there and like, follow etc. that page, you’ll be able to keep up with what’s going on, give feedback, all the usual social media kind of stuff. So if you’re the kind of person who spends any time on Facebook, please do pop over there and give The Wild Episode a like.
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Just for a little change of scene, we have a new header image up at the top of this page. I did like that lovely Stomias boa, so there’s a good chance it’ll re-appear one day, but for now we’re going with this charming critter:
Which is, apparently, supposed to be a Humboldt’s hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus humboldtii), a skunk from the southern tip of South America. As with a great many old illustrations of animals, it’s not exactly a fantastic representation if that is indeed what it’s supposed to be. Too much red/brown, not nearly enough white, not enough fur/hair generally. However, it’s not quite as simple as that.
Read on to see just how not simple it is, and for cute film of a bouncing skunk …
Check out this film of a south American hog-nosed skunk in action (wind noise is a bit distracting, but worth putting up with to see the fantastic bouncing, fluffing, dancing threat display the skunk does, starting around 15 sec in!):
Now the title of that film says it’s a Molina’s hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus chinga), so you might think it’s not exactly surprising it doesn’t look much like the picture now adorning the top of this page. BUT …
(a) in the description of the video it gives the Latin name as … Conepatus humboldtii, and
(b) the description says the film was shot in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, which is outside the accepted range of Molina’s skunk, but within the range of Humboldt’s skunk, and
(c) both species are not only very similar but also, apparently, extremely variable in appearance – and I’ve seen pictures of C. humboldtii (e.g. the ones here) that do look a little bit more like my header, and
(d) this scientific paper right here says C. chinga and C. humboldtii are actually the same species anyway, just one that’s highly variable in response to environmental conditions.
So there you are. I still think that drawing’s way too reddish brownish and sleek if it’s really supposed to be a Humboldt’s hog-nosed skunk. But whatever. I like it, and it gets bonus points for being named after a superstar of natural history/exploration. So it gets a little run as the header image.