Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nyctereutes lockwoodi

Cute as buttons!
Nyctereutes is an east Asian genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the Raccoon Dog. Nyctereutes, as a genus, is shown to have appeared about 9.0 Ma with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.
I had heard of these creatures before, but I don't think I'd ever seen a photo. And despite the cuteness factor, they probably have massive teeth and a predisposition to disembowel prey many times their size, or spit acid or some such. Still, I was tickled to read at Laelaps that a new species has been identified in the fossil record.
The new canid, a relative of the living raccoon dog dubbed Nyctereutes lockwoodi in honor of paleontologist Charles Lockwood, is represented by a complete skull and a smattering of other material.
Now here's the punchline: my namesake was Charles Brown Lockwood, my fourth or fifth great-grandfather. He went to California with the forty-niners, quickly realized he wasn't going to find gold, and set himself up a dry goods and mining supply store. He went back to Cleveland, invested the money he had earned and saved into the steel industry, and indirectly, it's his work that is supporting me today. (Just to be clear, neither he nor I have ever been qualified to say much about paleontology).

And while I have gone by "Lockwood" as my "first" name for my entire life, confoundingly to bureaucracies and computers, my full name is Charles Lockwood DeWitt. So I'm pleased to think that this dog-like creature, whose name honors "Charles Lockwood," was even cuter, less dangerous, and more inclined to enjoy pets and pats than the lovely animals above.

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