Tetrapod Zoology

Happy THIRD birthday Tet Zoo

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Comments

  1. #1 andrea cau
    January 21, 2009

    Happy Birthday, Darren!
    You wrote: “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 what it was, so will stick with it.”

    Yes, it was, at least for my blog.
    “Uber-nerd”… I prefer calling “Ultrational way of blogging”… ;-)

  2. #2 Jerzy
    January 21, 2009

    Happy anniversary!

    For a three year old, TetZoo featured incredible number of claws, fangs and spikes. Good luck!

  3. #3 David Marjanovi?
    January 21, 2009

    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.

    The next and perhaps more important stage must have been SV-POW!: “All sauropod vertebrae, all the time.”

  4. #4 Dartian
    January 21, 2009

    my typing days are numbered, let’s face it

    Why? Please don’t say it’s because you suffer from wrist pain or some similar nasty ailment.

  5. #5 Adam
    January 21, 2009

    Hi Darren,

    Happy blog inception day! You are correct, a large part of my decision to start Dracovenator was inspiration from TetZoo, it just looked like so much fun. Of course I doubt Draco will ever be as popular but wtf.

    all the best

  6. #6 David Marjanović, OM
    January 21, 2009

    One problem with Dracovenator is that you need to login to comment. Without that annoying requirement, I’d have commented at length on Chinlechelys and Odontochelys

    BTW, check out the JVP of December. Sclerosaurus: a procolophonid with a row of osteoderms per dorsal rib. Hmmmm.

  7. #7 David Marjanović
    January 21, 2009

    Oops. Wrong signature for this blog. But interesting that the ScienceBlogs software update means it doesn’t get miscoded anymore.

  8. #8 Adam
    January 21, 2009

    David,

    That issue has been raised before, I thought I’d fixed it. Will check again now.

  9. #9 Lilian Nattel
    January 21, 2009

    Happy Birthday! I only discovered science blogs this year & am hugely enjoying it–impressed by all the time & knowledge that goes into your blog. Thanks for the links, too!

  10. #10 Bent Lindow
    January 21, 2009

    Hi Darren,

    Happy three years’ anniversary!

    Thanks for a huge amount of well-written and thoroughly researched articles, as well as the occasional fun “frivolous nonsense”. Also thanks for being one of the two main inspirations (style-wise) for my own blog.

    I expect you to keep up the excellent work and am looking forward to another year of “Tetrapod Zoology”.

    Cheers,

    Bent

  11. #11 Ilja Nieuwland
    January 21, 2009

    Congratulations at keeping up!

  12. #12 Laelaps
    January 21, 2009

    Happy blogiversary! I hope TetZoo remains a fixture of the science blogohedron for many years to come.

  13. #13 Craig York
    January 21, 2009

    Congratulations, for what its worth, and best wishes.
    Onward and Upward!

  14. #14 Neil
    January 21, 2009

    Congratulations on 3 years :)

    I think its fair to say you’ve inspired more than the blogs you’ve mentioned. My original blog was just my photos and a bit of writing, but now on my proper blog I find myself spending my evening researching and writing about britains wildlfe and I know who I blame!

  15. #15 Jorge Velez-Juarbe
    January 21, 2009

    Feliz Aniversario!!!

    And yes, Tet Zoo was a major inspiration for making my own “uber-nerd” blog. Thanks for making such an interesting blog and keep it coming!!

    BTW the video is kind of neat.

  16. #16 ReBecca
    January 21, 2009

    Happy Birthday! Keep up the good work!

  17. #17 Zach Miller
    January 21, 2009

    Happy birthday, Tet Zoo! I baked you a cake, but realized that blogs can’t actually eat cake, so I ate it with you in mind. It was delicious.

  18. #18 Raptor Lewis
    January 21, 2009

    Happy Anniversary, dude!!!

  19. #19 Mike from Ottawa
    January 21, 2009

    Happy Birthday, Tetrapod Zoology!

    I hope Darren takes you out for dinner to celebrate.

    Keeping up a tradition, that picture of Daption surprised me. I’m amazed I’ve lived this long without seeing a picture of such a striking bird. The amazing is par for the TetZoo course.

  20. #20 Raymond Minton
    January 21, 2009

    Congratulations on your 3rd anniversary Darren! When you listed the topics you’ve covered thus far, it made me wish I’d stumbled on to the science blogs earlier. I haven’t been able to find some of these things elsewhere, even on other science blogs, so you fill a gap with your unique site. Once again, congratulations! P.S. You needn’t feel guilty about covering the topic of cryptozoology. It’s a perfectly respectable field, and if it’s approached with discipline, (and it’s more outrageous claims treated with caution) it can yield excellent results.

  21. #21 Johnny
    January 21, 2009

    Happy birthday – Ain’t no party like an uber-nerd party!

  22. #22 Jerzy
    January 21, 2009

    BTW – did you consider turning a bit of this blog into a documentary script? Life of predators or so? With figurine of Homotherium, desert crocs, assorted large-mouthed extinctees, raptors galore and all?

  23. #23 Stevo Darkly
    January 21, 2009

    Happy birthday to one of the best, most informative, most interesting and most entertaining bits of science writing to be found in any form anywhere on the Web!

    Or offline either, come to think of it.

    Personally, it’s one of my favorite science blog of all time. I have to check here and at Laelaps every day.

    Okay, that pretty much covers how I feel. Now I need to read the posting.

  24. #24 John Scanlon FCD
    January 21, 2009

    Happy anniversary to Tet Zoo, Darren and all our readers!

  25. #25 Hai~Ren
    January 21, 2009

    A happy Tet Zoo birthday!

    I’ve been following Tetrapod Zoology since the days of Blogspot, and it’s been a very enlightening and insightful experience. Not only do I get to indulge in my passion as an amateur zoologist, I’ve learned so much from Darren and all the other folks. I visit several times daily, if only just to follow the comments.

  26. #26 Raymond
    January 21, 2009

    Happy Birthday! You are a God, arisen from the ashes of Attenborough….

    Please,PLEASE, do a blog on Multituberculates! (if you include the gondwanatherians who maybe,possibly, probably are the last of the plagiaucoid multis….)

    I will worship you forever,
    I will worship you forever,
    I will worship you forever,
    I will worship you forever,
    I will worship you forever,
    I will worship you forever,

    Don’t do so, and I WILL SEND YOU MILLI-VANILLI SPAM FOR-EVER!!!!

    No, I won’t, you’ve given us so much already, but…

    Please?
    PRETTY Please?
    Pretty please with sugar and a cherry on top of it?

    -Seriously, you have a truly excellent blog. Stop by my neighborhood sometimes, I’ll take you to Tony Packo’s or Rudy’s and we’ll discuss the local cryptids, South Bay Bessie, Michigan Dogman, the Carnivorous Ape among a few others.

  27. #27 William Miller
    January 22, 2009

    “Tet Zoo currently contains more information on such animals than any other single source outside of the technical literature.”

    And that is why this blog is so awesome. (Especially the giant caimans – I’d never even seen them mentioned before; odd for such cool animals.)

  28. #28 JuliaM
    January 22, 2009

    Many happy returns, and here’s to the next three years!

  29. #29 neil
    January 22, 2009

    Behold, the power of a Tet Zoo referral (even a parenthetical one)! microecos hasn’t seen this kind of commotion since Tom Holtz helped to market the afrothere-power logo on the Vert Paleo listserv.

    Congrats on the blogoversary! Now, about those monster pigeons…

  30. #30 Robert
    January 22, 2009

    Happy Birthday!

  31. #31 Darren Naish
    January 22, 2009

    Many thanks to all for comments. Very pleased to hear that my stuff has been motivational for some. Let’s see if we can collectively bring about the decline of anti-intellectualism :)

    Dartian: re ‘typing days are numbered’ – yes, alas, my joints are failing. This isn’t limited to my manual skeleton: parts of my hindlimbs are also dysfunctional, knees in particular.

    Jerzy: on TV projects, I tried for a while to get interest in some sort of TV spin-off series, but gave up after repeated failure. Not worth the time or effort.

    Raymond: thanks for the invite, I’ll keep you posted. And, one day, you’ll get your MTBs. And, Neil, those monster pigeons too.

    Zach, thanks for the cake. They say it’s the thought that counts.

  32. #32 Dinorider
    January 22, 2009

    HAPPY BLOGGIRTHDAY 4 TETZOO, Darren!

    bests wishes from Peru

  33. #33 Dave Howlett
    January 22, 2009

    Happy birthday Tet Zoo! Having always been fascinated by paleozoology (and modern zoology) finding this site has been a godsend! I look forward to the next three years, and many more afterward I hope.

    And one slight factual quibble :P the lyrics of Mary are a tiny bit more upbeat than you make them sound – tis indeed about a lonely woman with depression, but the song is being sung by her best friend who is vowing to always stick by her and strive to bring her happiness :) it is, however, true that the real Mary died a few years ago of postoperative complications.

  34. #34 Size
    January 22, 2009

    Congratulations on another great year! Way to go! Keep up the good work!

  35. #35 Matt Wedel
    January 22, 2009

    I see that I’m late for the party. Well, you must know that I think that all of the incarnations of Tet Zoo collectively constitute

    THE.

    BEST.

    DAMN.

    BLOG.

    EVER.

    As always: keep ‘em coming.

  36. #36 jck
    January 22, 2009

    Happy Birthday, TetZoo. I’v had a lot of fun reading your posts and have learned a lot. Hopefully here in the USA science will be popular again.

  37. #37 Steve
    October 12, 2009

    Good to see you’re wearing your Messel hat, happy anniversary.