tetrapodzoology

Profile picture for user tetrapodzoology
Darren Naish

Posts by this author

November 8, 2011
You are currently at the old, defunct version of Tet Zoo. To see new stuff (from July 2011 to present), click here. See you there.
July 5, 2011
On January 23rd 2007, Tet Zoo ver 2 - the ScienceBlogs version of Tetrapod Zoology - graced the intertoobz for the first time. There was rapturous applause, swooning, the delight of millions. Looking back at it now, that very first ver 2 post is rather odd. It's on the blood-feeding behaviour of…
June 30, 2011
So sorry for the very short notice. The following airs here in the UK tonight (Thursday 30th June 2011), Channel 4. I look forward to it. For the Tet Zoo articles on ING and related issues, see... Inside Nature's Giants: a major television event worthy of praise and accolade. Part I! Inside…
June 29, 2011
If you didn't know, I've been away. The last four articles that have appeared here were all scheduled to publish in my absence. I've been in Romania and Hungary where I had a great time - saw lots of neat animals (fossil and living) and hung out with some neat people. I'll talk about some of this…
June 27, 2011
Yet more from that book project (see the owl article for the back-story, and the hornbill article for another of the book's sections). Hornbills, hoopoes and woodhoopoes are all similar in appearance and have been classified together in a group termed Bucerotes. Vague similarities with other long…
June 24, 2011
Suppose you're interested in the anatomy and biology of ground hornbills. Now suppose that you get the chance to make physical contact with one of these awesome birds. Here, at last, is the opportunity to get bitten!! Surely you've always wanted to know what it feels like when a ground hornbill…
June 22, 2011
More from the bird book. For the back-story, see the previous owls article. Hornbills are among the most distinctive and spectacular of Old World tropical birds. Often flaunting bright colours and sometimes reaching huge sizes (the largest species have wingspans of 1.8 m), they're well known for…
June 20, 2011
There's something they don't tell you about freelance writing. It's about all the fails: the many, many projects that get pitched, worked on and made into proper presentations that then get sent to book fairs, interested companies and so on, but ultimately explode on the launch pad, or die a slow,…
June 19, 2011
One of the most remarkable pigs has to be the Bornean bearded pig Sus barbatus, one of two currently recognised bearded pig species. The other is the much smaller, shorter-faced Palawan bearded pig S. ahoenobarbus of the Philippines: genetic work suggests that S. ahoenobarbus is not a close…
June 15, 2011
Here's something you don't see very often... This illustration (by Peter Trusler) shows the large Pleistocene Cuban owl Ornimegalonyx oteroi battling with a solenodon. Ornimegalonyx has been mentioned here a few times before (use the search bar), but nothing substantive, sorry. Most sources…
June 13, 2011
One of the strangest Mesozoic dinosaurs ever described has to be the African iguanodontian Lurdusaurus arenatus, named in 1999 for remains from the Lower Cretaceous Elrhaz Formation of Gadoufaoua, Niger (Taquet & Russell 1999). The Elrhaz Formation has also yielded the sail-backed…
June 10, 2011
On July 12th 2011 a very interesting thing is happening - interesting, that is, if you're interested in the academic evaluation of cryptozoological data. ZSL (the Zoological Society of London) is hosting the meeting 'Cryptozoology: science or pseudoscience?'. Speakers are Charles Paxton, Michael…
June 9, 2011
In the previous article I provided brief reviews of all currently recognised pygopodid 'genera'*. Except one. I've left this one until last, largely because it's the most spectacular (up to 75 cm in total length) and (arguably) most fascinating pygopodid. We've seen throughout this series of…
June 8, 2011
I really want to get these pygopodid articles finished. Actually, I really want to get the whole gekkotan series finished: the end is in sight and I know I'll get there eventually. In the previous articles on pygopodids (part of the long-running series on gekkotan lizards: see links below), we…
June 6, 2011
The previous article - part of my now lengthy series on gekkotan squamates (see links below) - provided an introduction to the neat and fascinating near-limbless Australasian gekkotans known as the pygopodids. Disclaimer: the group being discussed here is 'Pygopodidae of tradition', not Pygopodidae…
June 3, 2011
One of my shortish-term goals at Tet Zoo has been to complete the series on gekkotan lizards I started in April 2010 (see below for links to previous parts). We continue with that series here, and this time round we're going to look at what should definitely be regarded as the weirdest of…
June 2, 2011
Once again I'm in that frustrating position so beloved of bloggers: where life and work just doesn't let you fritter away all those 'spare' hours preparing lengthy blog articles. In the mean time, here's one of those 'mystery pictures' to identify. What is it? Genus will do (I know the species, but…
May 30, 2011
On May 24th 2011, photographer Mark Harrison took a few photos of the large marine creature he saw off the Wirral Peninsula, near Liverpool (UK). Harrison initially thought that the animal might be a seal, but then decided to put the photos online as a sort of joke. Several newspapers then ran the…
May 29, 2011
Dibamids are a weird and very neat group of fossorial, near-limbless squamates that I've long planned to cover at Tet Zoo. Little is known about them and how they might relate to other squamates has long been the subject of debate (they might be close to amphisbaenians, but links with gekkotans,…
May 27, 2011
When unable to find time to do anything else, resort to posting Squamozoic sneak-peeks (previous example here)... This scene - 'Riverbank ambush' - features a giant macro-predatory amphisbaenian and some surprised gekkotans. Colouring by Tim Morris. Feel free to discuss among yourself. Kinda busy…
May 25, 2011
Steve Sweetman and I have just published a paper on a new maniraptoran theropod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Wealden Supergroup of East Sussex, England (Naish & Sweetman 2011). As you might know if you're a regular reader, much of my technical work has been devoted to Wealden theropods…
May 24, 2011
I've long had a special interest in the sleeping habits of small birds. In fact, as you'll know if you read the article I published here back in September 2008*, I've covered this issue before. In that article, I noted that at least some passerines secrete themselves away in crevices or thick…
May 22, 2011
It's a sad fact of life that, as long as there are aircraft, and as long as there are birds, there will be collisions between aircraft and birds. I did in fact cover the issue of bird-strikes back in January 2008, but since then I've learnt a few new things that I'd like to share. For the record…
May 21, 2011
During the June and July of 2010 I and a host of friends and colleagues based at, or affiliated with, the University of Portsmouth attended the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. As you'll know if you saw the articles and pictures I posted here at Tet Zoo, our research group set up and…
May 19, 2011
I love seeing tetrapod-themed art, especially in unexpected places. While in London recently I noticed this 'tropical bird' painting on a piece of wooden boarding, erected to conceal building work. As you can see (larger version below), the work is mostly a brilliant montage of birds-of-paradise (…
May 18, 2011
If asked "Why do giraffes have such long necks?", the majority of people - professional biologists among them - will answer that it's something to do with increasing vertical reach and hence feeding range. But while the 'increased vertical reach' or 'increased feeding envelope' hypothesis has…
May 16, 2011
On March 14th 2011 National Geographic screened episode 1 of their new series Wild Case Files (here in the UK, the episode was screened on April 11th), and the reason I'm writing about it is because I featured in said episode. The first section of the show was devoted to an investigation of the…
May 13, 2011
Over the past several months months and months I've been trying to complete a series of articles on the various sac- and pocket-like head and neck structures that have evolved in such diverse mammals as apes, horses, camels and baleen whales (links to the previous articles in the series are…
May 12, 2011
Fossils demonstrate beyond any doubt that Mesozoic dinosaurs laid eggs, as of course do all dinosaurs today. But back during the 1960s, 70s and 80s - back when Robert Bakker and his idea about dinosaur biology were regularly featured in magazines and other popular sources - the scientific…
May 7, 2011
The interconnectedness of ecosystems and their components is, today, a familiar concept. Top predators eat herbivores, herbivores eat plants, and top predators keep so-called meso-predators in check too. But perhaps it isn't appreciated enough just how interconnected things can be. Cristina…