Oh my god. Two years at ScienceBlogs have passed, and Tet Zoo has now been going for three years. It all started on January 21st 2006 when, for no good reason at all, I started a blog over at blogspot.com. Yes, Tet Zoo is three years old. Time to look back at the past year of operation.
For starters, should you want to know more about Tet Zoo’s origin and history of operation, read Happy first birthday Tetrapod Zoology part I and part II (both at ver 1), and Happy second birthday part I and part II. Last year, I included a ‘what happened in tetrapods during 2007’. I’m not going to do the same for 2008 (not enough time), and for an ‘end of year review’ of my personal activity we already have the I am lazy article anyway. So, time to look back at another year of blogging. Or, to put it another way…
A look back at another year of blogging
Lest we forget, Aetogate took up a lot of time and effort in 2008, and at the end of January the story went mainstream and made the journals (Dalton 2008). The whole affair rumbled on during the year, eventually culminating – in totally unsatisfactory fashion – in May when the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology issued statements on the subject. They (the SVP) did change their Bylaw of Ethics as a result of the case, but they seem not to have properly assessed the available data, nor listened to the complainants. My last word on the subject appeared in June (here): for a rather more corrosive take on the SVP’s conclusions see Mike Taylor’s article here at SV-POW!
From January onwards I also tried to help with two global conservation efforts: the launch of the EDGE amphibians project, and the promotion of the Year of the Frog movement. During 2007 I’d done a reasonable job of show-casing lissamphibian diversity, but – despite efforts – I never got to write about amphibians as much as I wanted to in 2008. Nevertheless, what I did was better than nothing, and I did at least write about ambystomatids and baw-baw frogs. In February I featured a whole week of ankylosaurs (starting here) [Polacanthus model shown here on display at Dinosaur Isle, Sandown, Isle of Wight]. I might do this again, I might not. I was also pretty happy with the fact that, during February, I got to cover astrapotheres and giant caimans. One of my greatest annoyances is that the really incredible animals – the coolest ones – routinely go all but unmentioned in all the standard works on palaeontology and zoology, partly because they’re not really relevant to the evolution of such text-book staples as hominids and horses, but also because authors are lazy and prefer to repeat the stuff they’ve said before. It’s this sort of thing that drives me to write about such animals as borhyaenoids and phorusrhacids (June and July 2008). It sounds arrogant to say it (sorry), but Tet Zoo currently contains more information on such animals than any other single source outside of the technical literature.
Like it or not, cryptozoology at Tet Zoo continues to draw in the crowds. Ever in search of more hits (I wasn’t competitive until I joined ScienceBlogs), I covered yeti tracks, the Mansi photo (both in June), the migo (October), and also a whole week of sea monsters in July. I thought that ‘sea monster week’ was great fun and I’d happily do it again, if only there were enough images to go round. Tet Zoo featured a second themed week, also in July, when I covered weird odontocetes: to use its proper name, this was ‘Seriously frickin’ weird cetacean skull week’. Cetaceans are among my favourite animals and it doesn’t feel like I’ve covered them much at Tet Zoo, so ‘Seriously frickin’ weird cetacean skull week’ helped bring balance to the force. During the latter part of the year I also saw covered such diverse things as duikers, woodpeckers, tree-climbing dinosaurs, hypothetical flightless pterosaurs, Old World tortoises, and scansoriopterygids. I made a start on seabirds: still lots more to do there [the petrel Daption shown here]. However, perhaps the biggest event of the blogging year was the Montauk monster fiasco of late August. This brings me on to the next subject…
Hits, peaks, mega-peaks, and the quest for glory
I haven’t exactly analysed the data too rigorously, but my ‘relaxed monitoring’ of site stats and visitor counts indicates that the Tet Zoo readership has increased constantly and gradually since things started in January 2006. In the second birthday report, I noted that 2400-2700 hits per day [hpd] seemed average, and that this had marked a major improvement from the 300-600 hpd of ver 1. Right now, Tet Zoo is pretty much guaranteed over 4000 hpd, and over 6000 hpd come in fairly frequently. Things went absolutely nuts when I posted on the Montauk monster – for several days I had over 50,000 hpd [see stats graph below]. I really don’t know why I care, but for much of 2008 Tet Zoo stayed in or near the top 5 at Nature Blog Network. I fight a constant battle with worthy adversaries. And I must be doing something right, because (of over 60 ScienceBlogs blogs) Tet Zoo is generally in the top ten most-visited. Right now it’s eighth.
I love being part of the ScienceBlogs family. I also love the virtual community that’s built up around Tet Zoo, and I’ve made many new friends. Thank you all for reading and visiting.
Some final thoughts
All being well, Tet Zoo will – probably – go on for as long as I’m fully functional (my typing days are numbered, let’s face it). There is still so much to do. I still have yet to publish articles on a huge list of things promised as early as 2006, and a ridiculous number of incomplete articles now await completion. I suppose my aim with Tet Zoo is that, eventually, the site will realistically cover actual tetrapod diversity. So far, I’m millions of miles away from such an aim: there are whole swathes of the clade that have yet to be even mentioned. There is just so much still to do.
Ultimately, I really shouldn’t spend the time on blogging that I do. I ‘should’ be spending my spare time churning out technical papers and writing books that will earn me loads of money (ha!). However, in very real contrast to 2007, I was able to stay employed during 2008 as a technical editor and freelance author, and my success at this – well, if ‘success’ is the right word – was in part due to Tet Zoo. Having mentioned the ‘jobs of 2008’, I haven’t yet blogged about these projects as they haven’t yet reached completion. But there have been lots of clues throughout the year, and I’ll be discussing them at length eventually.
Finally, one more thing. For me, 2008 is the year in which the blogosphere changed. Or, to put it another way…
The year in which the blogosphere changed
At the risk of sounding self-absorbed, I didn’t pay much attention to the blogosphere prior to the invention of Tet Zoo. But while there have always been many excellent blogs devoted to the dissemination and discussion of science, I didn’t see many ‘extreme specialist’ (or uber-nerd) palaeozoology blogs in existence prior to 2008. Yet now we have Theropoda, Dracovenator, Chinleana, Paleo Errata, The Life of Madygen, Caribbean Paleobiology, and others, all of which are excellent (you might have noticed that three of those blogs are devoted to the life of the Triassic. I also support Triassicism). Other newish favourites of mine include Biological Ramblings and Penguinology. I don’t know if it seems arrogant to think that Tet Zoo was a driving force behind this uber-nerd movement, but I like the idea that it was, so will stick with it.
So, here’s to another year. Thank you, thank you, thank you all: thanks to all those who have helped and supported me over the past year, to those who assist in obtaining literature, to those who advise and point out errors, to those who post comments, and to all who read and/or visit the blog.
PS – because it’s such a special day, I’m doing something unusual: below find my favourite music video of all time. It’s ‘Mary’ by the Scissor Sisters. I don’t mean to imply that the lyrics have any special personal significance (they don’t: they tell the sad tale of a lonely, depressed lady who later died), but I do think the video is brilliant. Oh, and besides humans and para-ugnaughts, one particularly interesting tetrapod has a starring role… [update: video now removed; no longer available on youtube].
Refs – –
Dalton, R. 2008. Fossil reptiles mired in controversy. Nature 451, 510.