Spring footwear

April 22, 2014 • 4:16 am

When you’re teaching, having the proper footwear gives you that extra soupçon of authority. Here’s a fine pair of boots from Rodney Ammons of El Paso. Guess the hide: need the proper species, with the right Latin binomial:



26 thoughts on “Spring footwear

  1. Greg Mayer needs to weigh in on this taxon. He’s very knowledgeable in crocodilian identification…

    1. OK, let’s try two others that we know are hunted in the wild and processed for leather: the salty (Crocodylus porosus) or the nile (Crocodylus niloticus)

  2. I’m going to go with Caiman crocodilus. The vamp/instep (I’m not sure of my boot nomenclature!) is made up of the cervical and anterior thoracic part of the dorsal armor. The first thing to note is that the cervical and dorsal armors are continuous, or nearly so: there’s not a (big) space of skin in between. This rules out a lot of species in which the two parts of the dorsal armor are distinctly separated. Interestingly, the scales in the two boots are distinctly different: the left boot cervical shield is 4-2-2, then a small 2 scale row; while the right boot is 4-2, then the small 2 scale row. This seems to fit in with the range of variability in C. crocodilus, and it’s also a commercially available species.

    I wrote a paper on this many years ago with Frank Ross. Darren Naish scanned and posted many of the figures in some nice posts he did on crocodiles a few years ago; I think he may not have posted the caiman figures, though.

    I should add that for identification of species from skins made into boots and pocketbooks, Peter Brazaitis, retired from the Bronx Zoo, is the world’s expert, and has written papers on how to do it, and been consulted in innumerable legal cases involving smuggling of protected species.

    Ross, F. D. & Mayer, G. C. 1983. On the dorsal armor of the Crocodilia. In Rhodin, A. G. J. & Miyata, K. (eds) Advances in Herpetology and Evolutionary Biology. Museum of Comparative Zoology (Cambridge, Mass.), pp. 306-331.

    1. Oh dear, I think Greg is wrong. At least according to Ammons, this is Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). Also, the jeans aren’t Levis: all self-respecting cowboys wear Wrangler 13MWZ jeans.

      1. Nile crocodiles usually have more space between the cervical and thoracic armor, but they are quite variable, and there may be more than one species under that name (see Darren Naish’s discussion at Tet Zoo). It’s easy to tell crocs from caimans and alligators if you can look at some belly scales with a hand lens, but I couldn’t blow the picture up enough. I’ll take a look at them the next time I see Jerry (he’ll have to have the right boots on).

  3. Those are some impressive boots, but for teaching I’d have thought you would want something steel-toed, for kicking lots of undergrad heinies.

    1. I’m sure all Jerry’s undergraduate students are mature and responsible adults who have no need of ass-kicking.

      His postdocs, on the other hand….


    1. I would not want that boot to meet my bottom! I hope that action is reserved for undergraduate students! 🙂

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