About the SA Blog Network
Tetrapod Zoology

Tetrapod Zoology

Amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals - living and extinct
Tetrapod Zoology HomeAboutContact
  • Profile

    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.
  • Blogroll

  • Loxton and Prothero’s Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids; the Tet Zoo review

    Abominable Science!, already well more than a year old...

    I’m an unashamed fan of cryptozoology – this being (for the two of you that don’t know) the field of study that revolves around those creatures thought to exist by some, but which remain unrecognised by mainstream science in general. These are the cryptids*: entities like Bigfoot, Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, sea-serpents, and so [...]

    Keep reading »

    Footless urbanite pigeons

    Poor footless urban pigeon, encountered close to Kew train station. Photo by Darren Naish.

    Foot deformities are ubiquitous in urban pigeons – why? As you’ll know if you’ve spent any time watching the pigeons of towns and cities, something like one in every ten (or more) has missing or partial toes, or swollen toes, or other pedal deformities of some sort. And then there are really extreme individuals – [...]

    Keep reading »

    A brief history of muskrats

    Nice picture of muskrat eating. Photo by Linda Tanner, CC BY-SA 2.0.

    Earlier in the year I made a promise that I’d get through more rodents here at Tet Zoo. Rodents, you see, divide people like no other group of tetrapods. Some hate them, others love them, and while they’ve classically been regarded as bread-and-butter staples of discussions about tetrapod evolution and diversity, others bemoan their sameyness [...]

    Keep reading »

    The changing life appearance of dinosaurs

    Jurassic dinosaurs as illustrated by Peter Zallinger: these are svelte, lightweight animals typical of the late 1970s and 80s. Hat-tip to LITC for the scan.

    Anyone who knows anything about Mesozoic dinosaurs will be – or certainly should be – familiar with the fact that our view of what these animals looked like in life has changed substantially within the last several decades. The ‘dinosaur renaissance’ of the late 1960s and 70s saw the flabby-bodied, tail-dragging behemoths of earlier decades [...]

    Keep reading »

    Nuthatch Empire

    A nuthatch montage. Top left: Pygmy nuthatch (photo by Jimfbleak CC BY-SA-3.0). Top right: White-breated nuthatch (photo by Snowmanradio CC BY-SA-3.0). Bottom: Western rock nuthatch (photo by Devonpike CC BY-SA-3.0).

    Today I’d like to focus on passerine birds again, and this time on a group that I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about before: the certhioids. Scrap that. This article ended up being devoted entirely to just one lineage within Certhioidea: the nuthatches, or sittids (properly Sittidae). We start with the image above, taken in [...]

    Keep reading »

    More passerines as seen from the peripheries (part III): Great tits!

    Parus major, aka Great tit, photographed in southern England in early 2014. Photo by Darren Naish.

    Welcome to another of my articles on passerines from the peripheries. As before, the idea here is that we’re looking at passerine bird groups as seen ‘from the fringes’ – from an obscure, maritime archipelago on the eastern fringes of the North Atlantic, far from the places where these birds underwent most of their evolution [...]

    Keep reading »

    The LonCon3 Speculative Biology event

    SpecBio postcards printed by Memo: these few feature (top left) a selection of Squamozoic animals by Darren Naish, (lower left) a Snaiad creature by Memo Kosemen, and (right) a Greenworld Bounty poster by Dougal Dixon.

    I’ve just returned from LonCon3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, held at the enormous ExCel Exhibition Centre in east London. Yeah, I know, sci-fi isn’t exactly a normal part of the Tet Zoo remit but, on this occasion, there really is overlap since I was there for a set of special Speculative Biology talks [...]

    Keep reading »

    Blue tits: passerines seen from the peripheries (part II)

    Preening Eurasian blue tit doing weird stuff with its wing: a bird that I photographed in April 2014. Photo by Darren Naish.

    Today I want to talk more about passerines, and I know that this will make you happy. In particular: TITS!! Tits of several species are ubiquitous here in Europe. The two that are most frequently encountered here in southern England are the Great tit Parus major and Eurasian blue tit Cynanistes caeruleus. This article was [...]

    Keep reading »

    The 6-ton Blue whale model at London’s Natural History Museum

    As close as you can get to the NHM Blue whale model. Such a thing of great beauty. Photo by Darren Naish.

    A series of meetings meant that I found myself in London’s Natural History Museum yesterday, and with my friends and Tet Zoo supporters Dan and Felix Bridel (great t-shirt, Felix) I spent a while gawping at the always fascinating life-sized Blue whale Balaenoptera musculus model that hangs in the Mammal Hall. The Mammal Hall is infinitely [...]

    Keep reading »

    Chiffchaffs: a view of passerines from the peripheries (part I)

    Chiffchaff, leaf warbler examplar. Photo by Darren Naish.

    Every now and again I make an effort to get through a little bit more of passerine bird diversity (see the list of articles below for previous efforts). This is such an enormous and vastly diverse clade, alas, that I’ll probably never manage it – unless, that is, that I blog about passerines and not [...]

    Keep reading »

    Search this blog:

    • Year:
    • Month:
    • Keyword:

    More from Scientific American

    Scientific American Back To School

    Back to School Sale!

    12 Digital Issues + 4 Years of Archive Access just $19.99

    Order Now >


    Email this Article