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Tetrapod Zoology

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    Darren Naish Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at! Follow on Twitter @TetZoo.
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  • Passerines from the peripheries (part IV): Christmas edition… ROBINS!

    Tame European robin, encountered in Wales in April 2013. Photo by Darren Naish.

    It’s time to wind things down for Christmas, so what better way to do it than to write a short article about robins. And here I mean the ‘original’ or ‘proper’ robin – the European robin Erithacus rubecula – a Eurasian passerine that also occurs in northern Africa and is (conventionally) regarded as the only [...]

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    The 300th article at Tet Zoo ver 3 is very weird

    This is going to be an unusual article for a blog called 'Tetrapod Zoology'. Read on...

    Welcome to the 300th article to be published here at Tet Zoo ver 3 (note: not at Tet Zoo as a whole). I feel that this momentous occasion should be marked in some way, so here we are. The 200th article – if you’re interested – was published in September 2013 and mostly consisted of [...]

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    Confrontational behaviour and bipedality in deer

    Harangued moose turns to face human aggressors and make them regret their pursuit. Photo by Janis Powell.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of the most familiar and frequently encountered of mammal groups (at least, to those of us in Eurasia and parts of the Americas) – DEER – are weird and fascinating when you get to know them. The whole antler thing is bizarre, but the behavioural [...]

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    African tree toads, smalltongue toads, four-digit toads, red-backed toads: yes, a whole load of obscure African toads

    Highly simplified phylogeny for Bufonidae with some of the main evolutionary and biogeographical events marked at appropriate places. Based predominantly on Van Bocxlaer et al. (2010). Atelopus by Giovanni Alberto Chaves Portilla CC BY-SA-2.5, Rhaebo by Brian Gratwicke CC-BY-SA-2.0, Anaxyrus by LA Dawson CC BY-SA 2.5, Rhinella by Froggydarb CC BY-SA-3.0, Mertensophryne by Vladimir Dinets, used with permission, Bufo s. s. by Kruczy89 CC BY-SA 3.0, Bufotes by Richard Bartz CC BY-SA 3.0, Ansonia by Thomas Brown CC BY-SA 2.0, Duttaphrynus by L. Shyamal CC BY-SA 2.5.

    Long-time Tet Zoo readers will be familiar with the long-running series on the toads of the world. It’s been running intermittently since October 2009 and is something like 50% published. Much of the text has been written but it’s the getting-hold of usable images of the relevant species that forms the main obstacle to completion. [...]

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    South America’s very many remarkable deer

    Fine specimen of South Andean huemul. Photo by Ricardo Hevia Kaluf, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Deer are strongly associated with Eurasia and North America and less so with the other regions of the world. In this brief article – part of which is an excerpt from my 2013 article on the conservation status of South American mammals (Naish 2013) – I’m going to say a few things about the deer [...]

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    Cricetomyines: the African pouched rats and mice

    Beautiful rendition of Cricetomys gambianus by Willems van der Merwe, used with permission.

    Sometimes, I pick up Volume II of Walker’s Mammals of the World, go to page 1400 or 1500 or thereabouts and look at all the obscure Old World rats and mice. You might have done the same thing. If you have, you might have been left with the same general feeling as me: of being [...]

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    Chet Van Duzer’s Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps

    Front cover of Van Duzer's (2013) Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps.

    One of the most spectacular and visually fascinating Tet Zoo-related books of recent-ish months is Chet Van Duzer’s Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps, published in 2013 by the British Library. I said a few words about this book back in June 2013, and here (at last) is the proper review I’ve been promising. Lavishly [...]

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    Short-snouted, suction-feeding ‘proto-ichthyosaur’ sheds light on fish-lizard beginnings

    Mesozoic marine reptile 'super-clade' recovered by Motani et al. (2014) when they included aquatic adaptations in the data set. Image by Darren Naish.

    Regular readers will know that I have a major interest in ichthyosaurs, the so-called fish-lizards of the Mesozoic (see links below). As you’ll know if you keep your finger on the pulse of Mesozoic reptile news, last week saw the publication of a really interesting new animal from the Lower Triassic: the Chinese ‘proto-ichthyosaur’ Cartorhynchus [...]

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    Terrestriality, high-walking and dimorphic snout crests: phytosaurs part II

    Life-size model of the phytosaur Rutiodon at Dinosaur State Park, Connecticut. Image by Patrick Murphy, used with permission.

    Time for more phytosaurs. The previous article is probably required reading. Phytosaurs are (so far as we can tell) members of the great diapsid reptile clade Archosauriformes. After all, they have an antorbital fenestra and various other characteristic bony features of this group. Within this clade, they’ve usually been regarded as members of Archosauria – [...]

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    Phytosaurs, (mostly) gharial-snouted reptiles of the Triassic, part I

    Some representative phytosaur portraits. Top to bottom: Smilosuchus, xxxxx. Image by Darren Naish: available on merchandise at the Tet Zoo Redbubble shop!

    As I hope I’ve said several or many times, there are many, many, many tetrapod groups that have never, ever received coverage on Tet Zoo. I know, it’s shocking. Today I’m extracting a section of text from a major in-progress book project. It’s on phytosaurs because they are among the neglected – readers with good [...]

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