Wild Animals/None


QUESTION: Hi, I have some questions for you, hope you can answer them,

1. I often wonder that how are bones so hard that even after millions of years, they have still not decayed.

2. We often talk about bigfoot or Sasquatch but a friend of mine told me that there is no such thing as there are no fossils, no samples, no bones etc. So what do you think?

3. Some people claim that the thylacine is still around. But even if it is around, ther are no fresh bone samples etc. That means that they are completely extinct. Any thoughts?


ANSWER: Dear Jem

Thank you for your questions. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

1. During fossilisation, the bones are hardened by some of the structure being replaced by rock. http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geology/fossil2.htm and http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geology/fossil2.htm give details about this happens.

2. I have seen information about the bigfoot or sasquatch. Your friend is right in saying there are no fossils, bones or other samples to prove that the Bigfoot exists. This doesn't prove that it doesn't exist, as several animals have been found without samples being found before this. I think the problem with the Bigfoot is its location. How did a large ape-like animal reach North America. When I went to college, one of my lecturers said that the yeti may be a representative of Gigantopithecus, a relative of the orang-utan. If so, there is the possibility that yetis, or their descendants, could have reached North America via the Bering Strait, but there is still the problem of the shortage of fossils. Recently, some scientists have said that the yeti is a bear (see http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDEQ and http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/10/dna-evidence-for-himalayan-yetis-doesnt-b). If so, this may explain the Bigfoot, especially as some of the 'proof' has been faked (see http://www.channel4.com/programmes/bigfoot-files). I would be interested if there is any proof.

3. A few years ago, I read a book detailing all sightings of the thylacine. A few weeks ago, a man visited the Zoological Society of London library and donated details of thylacine records. At about the same time, I saw a thylacine pup on display at an open evening at the Natural History Museum. I also attended a talk about reports of Tasmanian devils and thylacines lving on the Australian mainland. Unfortunately, some of the photos are very fuzzy. A thylacine photographed in Western Australia about 30 years ago was probably a stuffed animal, as it retained the same position at different times of the day. There is also the problem that a fox with mange can look very much like a thylacine (see http://www.terrierman.com/mange.htm) and I wonder how many people have been misled by this. http://www.themortonreport.com/discoveries/paranormal/is-the-extinct-thylacine-s says there have been cases of scat and hair that seem to indicate that the thylacine existed after 1936.
I think the survival of the thylacine is more likely than that of a Gigantopithecus or its relative in North America. I have read several books about thylacines and feel it's a great shame that it was only protected when it seems it was too late. I would be pleased to know that it still exists.

I hope this helps.

All the best


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello again,
1. You said that you saw a thylacine pup on display right? Would you please add some detail related to it?

2. Every single crytid we know never has some scientific proof. I mean all the photos and videos we saw are blurred. Well, I don't want you to make fun but I think those fuzzy images are rather, the images of ghosts or something supernatural. What do you think?

3. Anyways, we all say that the Spotted Hyena is exclusive to Africa. But the people of Pakistan claim that the Spotted Hyena is present in the Northern part of Pakistani Punjab. I said it may be the Striped Hyena but they pressed on. Moreover, when I showed them the photos of both the species, they all said that we see the spotted one not the other one. Now how on earth an African animal invade the Indian subcontinent?

4. Whenever we talk of wolves, we consider all the wolves as 'Gray Wolf'. Are all the true wolf species 'Gray wolves'? Anyways, the defintion of a species are animals that are similar and when they mate, they produce fertile offspring (something like this). Not surprisingly, the offspring of a horse and a donkey is sterile. But why is the offsring of a wolf and dog fertile? Are they the same species?


4. As far as my knowledge is concerned, croedonts were a branch of anciant carnivores, which class of predators today is closest to croedonts?

Dear Jem

Thank you for your additional questions. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

You obviously know a lot about animals and your questions are some of the most intelligent and inspired questions I have ever had.

1. I have had a talk with the Natural History Museum and you can get further information from mammalgroup@nhm.ac.uk. The person I talked with is very knowledgeable and I hope he can help you. If you like, I can try contacting the e-mail address later.
2. You could be right and there are people who think that people may have seen something that pertains to an earlier age. I have heard about ghostly soldiers tracing a path of an earlier street that was at a lower level than the current street, hence you can't see their feet. Perhaps some people are seeing creatures that used to exist, but I can't explain how you could take any kind of photo of them. Some creatures are misidentified. Last year, there were people who saw a 'lion' in Clacton, Essex. This turned out to be a big domestic cat. Another 'lion' was a dog that had been shaved to look like a lion. Despite this, some people have seen large animals that shouldn't be at their current location. A recent example was Wally the wallaby in North London (http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/second-wallaby-found-roaming-highgate-ceme).   
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spotted_hyena andhttp://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/22/12/2435.full.pdf say that spotted hyenas may have lived in Pakistan. As you say, the spotted hyena is now found in Africa. Some people in Africa have confused the hunting dog with the spotted hyena, so it is possible that the people in Pakistan confused a large dog with a hyena. Alternatively, they may have seen an escaped spotted hyena from a zoo or, to go into metaphysics again, seen the 'ghost' of an extinct spotted hyena, but I can't go too far down that path. A couple of people I met in Madagascar visited the zoo and said they had been shown a monkey that had been caught in Madgascar. Looking at some notes I made, other people said that the animal had come from Kenya or India. I would have liked to have seen the monkey to identify it and I haven't heard of anyone else seeing a monkey in Madagascar, so perhaps there is an animal living in Pakistan that resembles a spotted hyena.    
4. The wolf and dog were classified as separate species, Canid lupus and Canid familiaris, respectively - see http://www.wolfweb.com/class.html. Nowadays, the dog is often classified as a subspecies of the wolf (Canis lupus familiaris) - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog. Please note that some hybrids are fertile, such as some hybrids between cattle and bison (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beefalo). It can get confusing where some species are separate in one part of the world and seem to be the same species in another part of the world, such as the case with the herring and lesser black-backed gulls (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_Black-backed_Gull).
4. Creodonts were classified in the Carnivora. They are now placed in a separate order, Creodonta and it seems that the carnivores and creodonts shared a common ancestor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creodonta), so creodonts were not ancestral to carnivores (http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/mammal/eutheria/creodonta.html). None of the creodonts are related to living carnivores, but the most primitive carnivores are probably civets and their relatives, with the ASfrican palm civet probably being the most primitive species (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnivora).

Thanks again for your intelligent questions

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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