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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!

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  • Margaret Kinnaird and Timothy O’Brien’s The Ecology & Conservation of Asian Hornbills: Farmers of the Forest

    Kinnaird & O'Brien (2007), front cover.

    Hornbills are among the most charismatic, fascinating and awesome of birds, yet surprisingly little is known about them, dedicated studies are few, and they are incredibly elusive and hard to study. Approximately 60 hornbill species occur across tropical Africa and Asia, and also in the Middle East and Australasia. These are birds of superlatives. The [...]

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    Turtles that eat bone, rocks and soil, and turtles that mine


    I have had extensive turtle guilt of late – that is, there just haven’t been enough turtles on Tet Zoo for a while… by which I mean, there haven’t been any. But fortune smiles on the thing that it smiles on, and a few neat photos have recently fallen into my proverbial lap, encouraging me [...]

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    The Tet Zoo Manifesto

    Rhacodactylus leachianus henkeli and Tetrapod Zoology Book One (you can see part of Memo Kosemen's cover art); image by Ethan Kocak.

    As is so often the case, I find myself unable to make the time to finish the numerous Tet Zoo articles I want to complete and release upon the world. Through burning frustration and a desire to produce something, here’s this. Tet Zoo has now been going for more than eight years, yet there are [...]

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    Of After Man, The New Dinosaurs and Greenworld: an interview with Dougal Dixon

    In a scene from the future world of After Man, giant predatory rats harry a rabbuck. Image by Dougal Dixon, used with permission.

    Some considerable years ago – February 2007, actually – I made the decision to write a short Tet Zoo article on speculative zoology. It was on the biology of Godzilla, and I published it with trepidation, my concern being that people would balk at the fact that I was covering an imaginary creature, not a [...]

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    The Age of Maximum Cassowary

    Over the past several years, remote cameras have obtained images of a remarkable new species of giant flightless bird.

    Yet again, the world is cockahoop and head-over-heads in awe over another thrilling, dumbfounding, truly novel zoological discovery. No, I’m not talking about the discovery of suspension-feeding anomalocarids, ancient echolocating odontocete cetaceans, or even of new tapirs (did I mention the new tapir?), but of a stupendous new living bird, discovered clinging to existence in [...]

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    Pronghorn, designed by committee

    Neat diagram from one of the Orbis World of Wildlife volumes, written by Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente.

    So much for posting more on ratites – alas, I just haven’t had time to finish the next article. Inspired by an article recently published by my friend and homeboy Brian Switek, I thought it time to republish this 2010 article. Enjoy. The Pronghorn or Pronghorn antelope* Antilocapra americana is a strikingly unique artiodactyl, endemic to [...]

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    Controversies from the world of ratite and tinamou evolution (part I)

    Palaeognath montage, featuring members of all recent lineages: ostriches, rheas, kiwi, emus, tinamous, moa, elephant birds, and cassowaries. Image by Darren Naish.

    As blasphemous and offensive as it seems to say it, birds are pretty samey. Generally speaking, they’re small flying things with long forelimbs, proportionally large heads with big, globular braincases, and grasping feet where an enlarged first toe (the hallux) opposes the remaining three. A shape like this was – so both the fossil record [...]

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    Mystery big cat skulls from the Peruvian Amazon not so mysterious anymore

    Skulls and accompanying life restorations of (A) the Peruvian 'Anomalous jaguar' and (B) 'Peruvian tiger'; image by Gustavo Sanchez.

    Scientific projects are very often years in the making. Within the past few days, I’ve had a new paper appear in the open-access journal PeerJ. It’s co-written with Manabu Sakamoto, Peter Hocking and Gustavo Sanchez. Therein, we examine and, we think, resolve the previously vexing identity of two big cat skulls obtained in the Peruvian [...]

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    Hell yes: Komodo dragons!!! (again)

    Komodo dragon feeding scrum. Not sure what's in the middle, but I somehow doubt that it's alive.

    What with all the monitor-themed goodness around these parts lately (see links below), it seems only fitting that I provide a re-vamped, substantially updated version of this Tet Zoo ver 2 classic (originally published in September 2007). Here we go… Without doubt, one of the coolest living animals on the planet is the Komodo dragon Varanus [...]

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    Plesiosaur Peril — the lifestyles and behaviours of ancient marine reptiles

    The storyline of Plesiosaur Peril is mostly based around the association between a juvenile Cryptoclidus and her mother. Based on what we know, there are good reasons for thinking that parental care of some sort really did occur. In this image, the mother and juvenile surface for breath. Image from Plesiosaur Peril by Daniel Loxton, used with permission.

    Between the later part of the Triassic and the very end of the Cretaceous, the seas of the world (and some of its rivers, lakes and estuaries as well) were inhabited by the remarkable group of swimming reptiles known as the plesiosaurs. All plesiosaurs – so far as we know – were predators, the shapes [...]

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