Tetrapod Zoology

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During recent weeks, I’ve written on a couple of occasions about my intention to get through the list of long-promised and nearly-finished articles: they include Amazing social life of the green iguana, Beluwhals and proto-narwhals, more on sebecosuchians, Triassic crurotarsans, Whence the onza, vampire pterosaurs, Piltdown, What did a dinoceratan do, astrapotheres and pyrotheres, tortoises tortoises tortoises… the list goes on. Right now I’m going to resist the urge to write a new article about baboons (more on them later), but am instead going to deal with something that needs doing as it’s already months overdue: it’s all about me, sort of…

Firstly, what’s with the pictures? Over the weekend Will and I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to visit the prehistoric animals at Blackgang Chine at the southern end of the Isle of Wight. I haven’t seen these in about 20 years and it only recently occurred to me that it would be neat to see them again. They’re hideously outdated and thoroughly inaccurate, yet still I love them, mostly for the nostalgia I suppose. A selection of some of the more unusual or interesting of the models is shown here, with appropriate commentary [at top, Will is riding the Pliocene-Pleistocene doedicurine glyptodont Doedicurus. I haven’t blogged about glyptodonts yet, but will do at some stage].

The Thinking Blogger awards

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Some of you might have noticed the ‘Thinking blogger’ award that appeared on the site back in April. This was awarded by Snail of A Snail’s Eye View (many thanks, err, Snail); I was awarded a second one earlier this month by Steve Bodio of Querencia, and a third by M. J. Murphy of BigCityLib Strikes Back a few days ago. Recipients of a thinking blogger award are requested to do three things; (1) to write a post with links to five blogs that make you think; (2) to provide a link to the blog article that started it all (that’s this post on The Thinking Blog); and (3) to proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ and add a link to the post that you wrote when receiving it. So my aim here, obviously, it to dish out five awards of my own. And that’s not as easy as it might sound, as quite a few of my friends in the blogosphere have already been awarded the damn things. However, I’ll see what I can do [adjacent pic appears to shows Will disappearing into the mouth of a Triceratops. At last, definitive proof of part-time carnivory in horned dinosaurs. As you can see, this is confirmed by the strongly heterodont dentition… WTF?].

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First award goes to my good friend Matt Wedel, aka Dr Vector. Matt’s blog is often irreverent, and he writes about sci-fi, does Tolkien book reviews, and covers all manner of other miscellaneous crap: one highlight being his comic strip on Australia Man. He also covers his assorted adventures with wildlife and museum specimens, and gives good commentary and review on hot palaeontology news. He also provides hilarious photos. In the broadest and loosest sense possible, his stuff always makes me think. Congrats on the award Matt :) The second award goes to Brian Switek’s blog Laelaps. Actually, I thought he’d already been given an award, but I can’t find a mention of it on his site. Brian covers all manner of stuff that I don’t touch (including creationism), but also does good stuff on tetrapods that I like. By the way, I don’t bother much with creationism because there are far more interesting things to write about, plus there are others (like the mighty P-Zed) doing a much better job than I could. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in it however [adjacent image is a pretty poor – and gigantic – Styracosaurus. For some reason it’s been given an elasmothere-like forehead horn, rather than the good honest nasal horn it should have].

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For the third award, I choose the outstanding Carel Brest Van Kampen and his excellent Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding. I sometimes feel guilty for not bigging-up Carel’s site enough. He is an outstanding artist, a gifted and excellent writer, and has an enviable amount of field experience. If you don’t check his site regularly, start doing so now: his posts are often similar to mine, being nice, informative reviews on such things as chameleons, softshell turtles and declining North American birds. The fourth award goes to Cameron McCormick, aka The Lord Geekington. Cameron has the same problem as me. He longs to write super-lengthy semi-technical essays on areas that interest him (they cover such things as honkin’ big animals and always excellent critical reviews of assorted aspects of cryptozoology), but the amount of time and effort that this involves perhaps makes him less productive than he’d like to be. He also has a liking for dark, disturbing art work [speaking of dark and disturbing, the surreal creature that Will is riding is meant to be a Polacanthus. Blame Neave Parker].

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Last but not least, for the fifth award I choose Matt Bille of Matt’s Sci/Tech blog. Matt and I have been friends and correspondents for years and I’ve always been a fan of his writing; I admire his rational and informed approach to the things he writes about. I assume that anyone interested in recent zoological discoveries and cryptozoology is already familiar with Matt thanks to his two excellent books (Rumors of Existence and Shadows of Existence). Both are mandatory reading if you’re interested in these subjects. I’m currently reading Shadows of Existence and think it’s excellent – I will be reviewing it here in the near future [adjacent pic: Will to scale with bizarre sprawling stegosaur. Nice].

So there we have it. And if it seems like I’ve just hand-picked a group of my closest colleagues and/or friends, well, so be it. As I said, some of the people I was going to chose have already been given an award, and if any of the five people listed here have already been given awards, let me know and I’ll dish out alternatives.

Why do I blog?

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Moving on: a short while ago (well, late April) I was tagged by Luca Fenu of The Owl’s Hide with the ‘Why Do You Blog?’ meme, and I’ll here attempt to provide a (brief) answer. I will admit straight up that part of the reason behind my blogging has been a vain effort to get my name out there, or at least get it out there a little bit more than it already is. But this is not the only motive, nor the primary one. In fact I’d say that the primary one is the personal enjoyment I receive from writing up summaries on subjects that grab my attention, and I enjoy the idea that I might hopefully be bringing said subjects to a new and/or wider audience. One of the great frustrations about the internet is that it is usually impossible to find in-depth information on specialised subjects, and I feel that by writing at length on turtle genitals, the evolution of sanguivory in birds and bats, flightless predatory future bats, aetosaurs, obscure anguid lizards and whatnot, I am doing my bit to disseminate information. I do feel that most Tet Zoo readers share my fascination with animals, and I hope that visitors come away from the site feeling that animals are even neater, cooler, and more amazing than they might have thought before. Overall, the personal enjoyment I get from learning, researching and writing is the primary motive for my blogging, followed by the (arguably) philanthropic desire to disseminate otherwise obscure information, and last in line has to be my selfish desire to become king of the universe, master of all. So now you know [adjacent pic shows – yay – another Tanystropheus model. I previously featured another one here].

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Finally, if you participate in the ‘Why Do You Blog?’ meme, you have to tag five others. I therefore choose: Steve Bodio and friends at Querencia, Dr Vector, Lord Geekington, Matt Bille and Carel Brest Van Kampen. To these authors, I remind you that it’s not compulsory and don’t worry about it if you don’t have time. Remember to add your own links to the meme tracker here [in the … interesting.. scene depicted in the adjacent image, two marauding ornithomimosaurs are attacking a Protoceratops nest. The Protoceratops is getting its own back by biting off the head of one of the ornithomimosaurs. As you’ve no doubt guessed, this scene is almost certainly based on the old idea that the type specimen of Oviraptor was killed and decapitated by an irate Protoceratops parent. As for confusing Oviraptor with an ornithomimosaur.. well, they both begin with ‘o’ don’t they].

I apologise for not producing a good informative post on dinosaurs, salamanders, marine reptiles, Amazonian primates or whatever, but I hope you agree that this is stuff I had to get out of the way. To the Thinking Blogger award recipients: congrats, now bask in the glory. Back to normal business with the next post.

Comments

  1. #1 Laelaps
    June 25, 2007

    Thank you for the “Thinking Blogger Award” Darren! I actually have never received it, so I’m certainly glad that I can link my little icon back to such a prestigious source. I have certainly learned much more from this blog than just about any I can think of, and your posts have definitely inspired me to spend more time researching and thinking about what I write (whereas earlier I would generally dump out the contents of my brain onto my blog but couldn’t say I followed up on things).

    Thanks again for the award/compliments, and keep up the good work, as always.

  2. #2 Steve Bodio
    June 25, 2007

    I’ll happily take up your challenge– as soon as my internet provider is fixed. It is so bad right now that it has taken three refreshes to get this far!

  3. #3 Michael P. Taylor
    June 25, 2007

    If you’re going to go linking to Matt’s photos, then you really need to include this one, which future generations will cite as a justification for PhotoShop. (Even though the second me looks like a total dork in it.)

  4. #4 Darren Naish
    June 25, 2007

    I’m not so keen on that photo: one Mike Taylor gives me the heebee-jeebees, but two…. [vomits involuntarily on floor] …

  5. #5 Cameron
    June 25, 2007

    I’ve been accused of many things, but thinking? I’m deeply flattered of course, and hope that I can live up to this…

  6. #6 Dr Vector
    June 26, 2007

    Thanks, dude.

    I’m glad you got yours back in April, because I’m a horrible procrastinator and now I won’t have to feel bad about not passing this on until almost the end of summer. So thanks again!

    If you’re going to go linking to Matt’s photos, then you really need to include this one, which future generations will cite as a justification for PhotoShop.

    If I can squeeze one more note out of my severely over-tooted horn, this one is even better because you can see the Brachiosaurus straight on instead of looking up its ass.

    (Even though the second me looks like a total dork in it.)

    Whoa. No kidding.

    Which of you is the second one, again?

  7. #7 Michael P. Taylor
    June 26, 2007

    Which of you is the second one, again?

    The fat one on the left.

  8. #8 Michael P. Taylor
    June 26, 2007

    By the way, Matt for some reason linked to the thumbnail version of the revised picture. The full-sized version is here.

  9. #9 Matt Bille
    June 26, 2007

    Darren,

    I am honored beyond words at being honored with this honor. Thank you very much.
    Regards,
    Matt Bille

  10. #10 Carel
    June 26, 2007

    Wow. Thanks for the kind words, Darren. I was just going to post something really stupid, but now I think I’ll wait.

  11. #11 Bruce
    June 29, 2007

    Hey, where is this display/museum?

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