Readers’ wildlife photos

May 19, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos come from reader Richard Bond, and the set is called “Tree Roots.” Richard’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

Two years ago I was on a guided tour in Cambodia. Inevitably the tour concentrated on temples and museums. After three days in the Angkor Wat complex, I was suffering from temple overdose and I started to take a broader interest in the sites, which were previously overrun with forest that had been only partially cleared.

The first thing to catch my eye was a lone tree (photo #1); from where its greenery remained, I assume that it was an example of a tree that normally forms the forest canopy.

The second photo shows a termite nest using a ruined temple (not part of Angkor Wat) as a foundation.

The next seven photos show what really piqued my interest, at the Ta Prohm temple: trees self-seeded on top of the buildings have spectacular roots that are finding their way to ground level. On checking the spelling of this temple, I was initially discouraged to find that the internet is hoachin’ with such photos, but I suppose that that is true of many of your readers’ subjects. However, some of my photos include people, giving an idea of scale. I was unable to identify the tree species at the time, but the Wikipedia entry on Ta Prohm gives some guidance.

In any case there is a sting in the tail. Ta Prohm is infamous for a carving that creationists claim is a stegosaurus, “proving” that dinosaurs lived with human beings, There are several things wrong with that (see next to last photo): the “plates” are the wrong shape, and in only a single row; the head is far too large and on too short a neck; the relative proportion of the legs is wrong; and there is no sign of the thagomizer. The clincher, if any were needed, comes from viewing the carving obliquely.

The last photo (which could have used more depth of focus) clearly shows that the “plates” are not in the same plane as the centre of the creature, as defined by its tail. Almost certainly, the carving is of a small animal against the background of a flower. Some sort of chameleon has been suggested. This idea is supported by what appears to be the weathered remains of a neck frill, which is much more easily seen when one is actually there, as opposed to in a photo.

18 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Fascinating set! As a kid, I immediately became fascinated with this type of archaeological subject because of a certain Spielberg/Lucas movie…

    And wouldn’t the carving – N of one – be precisely what would make a major entry in the case for creationism – laughable. The “flower” could also be the sunset or sunrise, maling the animal a hippo or something like that…?

  2. Maybe there are many other photos of these subjects around the internet, but I wouldn’t have seen them—and these are terrific. Those tree roots are spectacular, and of course the “stegosaurus” is hilarious. Thanks!

        1. I saw strangler figs in Costa Rica. They look vaguely like these roots, but on a very different scale.

    1. Makes me think of an occasional volcanic formation formed by lava dribbling over a cliff edge. Goes by the delightful names of “entrail pahoehoe”. Think, slaughterhouses.

  3. Many thanks for the appreciatuve comments. I was hesitant about submitting these photos: the quality of those of many other contributors is scary.

    1. The tail on the carving looks nothing like that of a rhino, assuming, of course, that the carver intended a reasonably accurate representation of whatever it was. If the representation was not accurate, the creationists’ claim is rubbish anyway.

    2. I agree with the rhino. It may not be a perfect match but what else in that area comes close, that head looks very bit a rhino.

  4. Its not a stegosaur–but your criticisms lack merit. The image is just clumsily done, that’s all. A lot of ancient sculpture is crude, anatomically flawed & eroded by time/weather..

  5. It’s a stegosaurus pareidolia. The animal looks like a dog to me- the ears. Plus, yeah, dog. This was a great set of photos. Thanks.

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