Tetrapod Zoology

Archives for October, 2009

Sea Monsters, the CFI conference

On November 7th 2009, the Centre For Inquiry in London is hosting a one-day event titled Monsters From the Deep! It’s being held at Conway Hall in Red Lion Square (a venue I know all too well…). I’m giving a talk at the event so wanted to advertise it: for more details please visit the…

The Natterjack, its life and times

The Natterjack Epidalea calamita (introduced in the previous article) is a remarkable animal, well adapted for the dry, relatively saline environments it inhabits (there are places where Natterjacks inhabit saltmarshes, moors, and disused industrial areas). A proficient burrower, it starts digging a burrow with its forelimbs but does most of the work with its hindlimbs…

If you’ve been following the toad series, you’ll have read articles that introduce toads in general, discuss reproductive biology, and look at cranial anatomy. This can all be regarded as background introductory stuff. From hereon, we’re mostly going to look at toad diversity in rough phylogenetic order: that is, starting at the base of the…

Yes! MORE TOADS. You surely know what a toad’s head looks like. But there’s a lot about toad skulls that you almost certainly don’t know, and the aim of this article is to review toad skull anatomy. This might seem like an arcane subject, but – as we’ll see – the diversity of toad skulls…

After a brief hiatus we return to the remarkable world of toads, and this time round we look at reproductive biology. As a western European person, the toad species I’m most familiar with (the Common toad Bufo bufo and Natterjack Epidalea calamita [see later articles for details on the name changes]) are seasonal breeders that…

The sort of stuff I put on facebook

Preparing blog posts for Tet Zoo takes hours, sometimes days or even weeks. It’s done in “spare time”. Putting crap on facebook takes minutes and can be done during the course of a normal work day. Some of the stuff is soooo hilarious it deserves to be shared… Francisco Gasc√≥ (aka Paco) knocked this up,…

Regular readers will know that my new book, The Great Dinosaur Discoveries (A & C Black in UK; UCP in US), was released over the last few weeks. By all accounts, it’s currently selling well and the reviews that have appeared so far have all been outstandingly positive [example]. Things are looking good. But I…

Pterosaurs – the charismatic flying archosaurs of the Mesozoic Era – fall fairly nearly into two great assemblages: the primitive, mostly long-tailed basal forms (or ‘rhamphorhynchoids’) and the more strongly modified, consistently short-tailed pterodactyloids. Pterodactyloids emerged in the Middle Jurassic and persisted to the very end of the Late Cretaceous, and fossils show that they…

One of the dirty little secrets of biology is that many groups of organisms have never been ‘defined’ in the phylogenetic sense: a group grows over time as people add new species to it, but they only do this because it ‘feels’ about right, not because there’s any rigorous way of knowing whether those species…

Toadtastic – the invasion begins!

I forget how it started now, but lately I’ve been very, very interested in toads (yes, toads), so much so that I’ve felt compelled to write about them. The problem is that toads – properly called bufonids – are not a small group. On the contrary, this is a huge clade, distributed worldwide and containing…