Field of Science

Name the bug # 57

So the last round of Name the Bug ended in a tie (well, effectively it did, because I say it did) between Adam Yates and Neil. So how am I going to decide the winner?

This is a photo that Christopher took recently. Neil and Adam both have an opportunity to provide an identification. As usual, points will be given for pizzazz (or however you spell pizaz) and supporting arguments as much as a real ID. And because this is supposed to be a showdown, I expect claws, lads!

Update: Identity now available here.


  1. Ah, an easy one for a change!

    Obviously, that's a waterfowl of some kind. It's too long-legged and long-necked to be a proper duck. It's therefore either a goose or a swan. The plumage would seem to be all-white - no black wingtips or anything. That rules out snow geese. There are all-white domestic geese, but this bird's feet are rather too long for a goose (and the rather duck-like bill is also wrong for domestic goose).

    Thus, only the swans remain. Now, the neck is too short and the bill is the wrong colour for it to be any one of the true Cygnus swans. We are therefore left with the final, oddball swan* species: the South American coscoroba swan Coscoroba coscoroba - which is what bug #57 is.

    * I haven't checked the most recent anatid phylogenies, so I'm not entirely sure if Coscoroba is still even considered a swan in the phylogenetic sense anymore.

  2. A small correction/clarification: the coscoroba swan's plumage isn't entirely white - it, too, has black on the very tips of its wings. But this is only visible when the coscoroba swan spreads its wings or is flying (in the snow geese, some black is usually always visible, even in resting birds).

  3. ...and blind drongo that I am, only now did I notice that the coscoroba swan's black wingtips actually are visible in that photo too (I looked too quickly and thought it was shading). D'oh!

  4. You also didn't notice the bit about how this was supposed to be a tie-breaker ;-P

  5. I agree with Dartian, its a coscoroba swan (Coscoroba coscoroba). Although the snow goose does have black wing tips which are present in the photo, the beak shape is wrong for a snow goose, they are tall and triangular in lateral view whereas the bird in the picture has a depressed bill with a curved dorsal profile like that of a swan.
    Anyway what is a Coscoroba swan? Difficult question. It seems that anatid systematics are in a state of flux and this beastie is one of the harder ones to place. In a phylogeny based on mitochondrial DNA (Donne-Gouse et al. 2002) it was found to be part of the swan goose clade (Anserinae) as the sister group of the Australian Cape Barren Goose, with true swans forming the next closest sister group. The idea that the south American and Australian oddball anserines are each others closest relatives (neogondwanan relicts?) is appealing.

    Thats as much pizaz as I can find given that a. Dartian beat me to the ID and b. I have an important meeting to attend in just a few minutes.

    PS. Chris - thanks for clearing up the sorus/sporangium issue for me!

  6. "You also didn't notice the bit about how this was supposed to be a tie-breaker."

    Oh. Sorry about that.

    Hmph! Of course this had to happen the one time when Name the bug was _not_ about identifying a fragment of some obscure arthropod or a chunk of moss...

  7. Ha, it is definitely a member of the Poaceae, though without flowers it is tricky to get it closer.

    As for the big white thing in the way of seeing the actual subject, does it quack like a duck and walk like a duck? If so...

  8. Damn, my goose looks cooked. That's what I get for living on the late side of the planet.

    "ella è interamente bianca a riserva dei piedi, e del becco, che sono rossi, e degli occhi che sembrano affatto neri...rostro extremo dilatato, rotundato, corpore albo" - indeed seems to fit the bill.

    My first guess was Pantydraco

    And now, it doesn't quack, it coscorobas, of course.

  9. "My first guess was Pantydraco"

    Ouch, I think you should award it to Neil for this comment alone - them's claws alright.

  10. Then if Adam says I can, I'll give the prize to Neil. Your underwhelming prize, Neil, is the opportunity to provide a guest post for this site, or to request a post on the topic of your choice.

    Even though, as everyone knows, Pantydracos are actually hot pink.

  11. score! ... I'll be in touch.

    And my hat's off to Adam for being such a generous sport. I, for the record, love the name Pantydraco, and her rather unfortunate obese cousin Thongoposeidon.


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