Many thanks indeed to those who’ve said nice things about Tet Zoo and its 12th birthday (previous article HERE), and thanks more to those who’ve stuck around and are now reading this second birthday article. And thanks even more to those who’ve so kindly provided gifts in view of this auspicious event. My plan here has been to put all the ‘2017 in review’ stuff into just two articles, but… well, it turns out that I wanted to say too much stuff for two articles, meaning that there will be another one after this one, sorry about that. I guess this says something about how much TetZooniverse-relevant stuff happens in any one year now – I don’t know if this part of my life represents Peak Tet Zoo; maybe it does. Anyway…
In the previous article, I covered the Tet Zoo year from January to June-July, ending with the Birmingham opening of Dinosaurs in the Wild (DITW from hereon: BOOK TICKETS HERE). Here, we look at the rest of the year. As per usual, look away now if deep introspection seems like a dull prospect.
Recall that – as stated in the previous article – work on The Big Book (aka TetZooBigBook or The Vertebrate Fossil Record) continued throughout the year, as it does as of the time of writing. Caecilians and frogs were all the rage during the summer of 2017 but I also did a ton of promotional TV and radio work for DITW (and a magazine interview: Naish 2017a), enjoyed a family holiday in exotic Cornwall, and read and reviewed Olivier Rieppel’s Turtles as Hopeful Monsters (Naish 2017b).
Paper # 2: on the Neovenator face. Our technical paper on the internal facial anatomy of the Cretaceous allosauroid dinosaur Neovenator from the English Wealden – led by Chris Barker and involving the University of Southampton’s µVIS X-ray Imaging Centre (‘µVIS’ = “Mu-Vis”) – saw print in the June of 2017 (Barker et al. 2017), my second technical publication of the year. Chris, myself and others are aiming to move ahead on several related, theropod-themed projects; I also have various other works on Wealden theropods that need to see print, but I absolutely must get a list of other things out of the way first. I’m sure I’ve said many times before, but publishing papers when you have tons of paying work in the way is just about impossible.
Anyway, the Neovenator research was discussed here on Tet Zoo. Some of our observations are relevant to the ever-popular issue of dinosaurian facial appearance. Neovenator is not a proxy for all non-bird dinosaurs but what we think it shows is that extensive extra-oral tissues were present in life. At the time of writing, theropod facial covering is topical in the palaeoblogosphere (…. what’s left of it) since Mark Witton has just written about the condition in tyrannosaurids.
The Great Hiatus and The Naish Fish. Moving on, elephant seals, microsaurs and ceratopsian skulls were covered at Tet Zoo and – at the end of June – I attended the Amphibian Conservation Research Symposium at the University of Kent in Canterbury, an excellent event covered here at Tet Zoo. Episode 60 of the world-famous Tet Zoo podcats (not a typo) was released in early July… which is significant, because it was the last episode before The Great Hiatus. It’s now around seven months later and The Great Hiatus is soon to come to an end. There was a reason, and all will be explained.
But… shadowing everything else in the year was the momentous publication of a new vertebrate taxon named after your favourite tetrapod-themed zoology blogger. Yes, 2017 was the year in which I was finally – justly, some might say inevitably – awarded august academic immortality via the publication of my own patronym, and this time it isn’t a fictional animal from one of the spec-verses. Yes, it’s Scalacurvichthys naishi Cawley & Kriwet, 2017. A pycnodont. A fish. Well, I’m flattered, and the paper is excellent (Cawley & Kriwet 2017). But… a fish. When Jo Cawley first contacted me about this new paper (via twitter), I assumed it was some sort of complex prank. But no.
In seriousness, I think that what this shows is that at least some fish-workers are appreciating the massive, fair amount of coverage I’ve given fishes in The Big Book (though I suppose this is only obvious to those who’ve seen the in-prep manuscript, are reviewing the text, or have seen how things are going at patreon). And, I assure you, this will be obvious once the book is published. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages on fishes.
During July I met up with historian, author and illustrator Brian Regal at London’s Natural History Museum, visited Katrina van Grouw for reasons relating to her next book (more on that in a couple of months) and attended the New Forest Show. Another of those TV shows I helped with – Real, Fake or Unknown – was screened on the UK’s Channel 4 early in early July. I featured (alongside John Hutchinson) in segments about bears on Japan and that notorious short scene where a CG eagle ‘grabs’ a child (I thought the eagle was CG the very first time I ever saw the footage: the feathering and flight movements never looked right).
Anamniotes were finished for The Big Book by this time (well, ‘finished’ pending those changes required post-review), meaning that I was now hard at work on reptiles, and specifically turtles. Man, there are a lot of fossil turtles. It is not coincidental that Araripemys the Cretaceous pleurodire and Letters From the World of Turtle Evolution were covered at Tet Zoo during late July and August.
Shin Godzilla, TV stardom and other musings. We obtained new guinea-pigs, I prepared a conference poster on my Big Book project, I went to Cornwall again (gannets, shags and the seals and sea lions of the Seal Sanctuary at Gweek), and I got to see Shin Godzilla at the cinema (where it was playing, UK-wide, for one day only). Shin Godzilla is a really interesting film. I initially (as in, long before seeing the film) really disliked the new take on Godzilla: it’s weird, grotesque and does stuff that seems utterly alien relative to previous incarnations of the Big G. But having seen the movie and had time to mull over it somewhat I do kinda like it. I’m thinking that a 2016/7 Godzilla should be as horrific, as moving, as disturbing and as shocking as the original was for audiences of 1954, and in this I think it succeeds.
I contributed to another TV thing during August when I worked with Wag TV for a series in which ‘mysterious’ bits of footage were evaluated by experts, though I use some of these words loosely. I reviewed footage showing – ahem – a Brazilian werewolf (transparently a guy wearing a mask) and a Texan chupacabra (a coyote or coyote hybrid suffering from mange) (neither bit of footage was new to me: both are old classics). In the end, I think my sections were either not included, or were shown mid-way through the relevant segments, the cherished last words being given to those implying or stating that Brazilian werewolves and chupacabras are real. Great.
Also in August, I assisted Matt Everett with the filming of his documentary on British big cats. As I’ve said before, there is at least some good data (tracks, hairs and tooth pits left on bones) indicating that non-native large cats are – or have been – abroad in the British countryside on occasion. I remain sufficiently interested in this topic that I plan to write about it extensively at some point… like, 15 years from now. Even if it is only a social phenomenon it’s been a fun ride (he says, with some experience of things inside the community).
Also on media-themed stuff, I did another podcast interview on cryptozoology: it’s for Jake’s Mysterious Planet podcast and can be heard here. We covered the PSP (or Prehistoric Survivor Paradigm), the ‘Julia’ sound and other alleged mystery noises from the deep, the Patterson footage, the Jersey Devil and more.
The Muscutt plesiosaur paper, Dinosaur Art II, and Wollaton Hall’s dinosaurs. Tet Zoo articles of August covered mountain beavers, Britains toy animals…. and plesiosaur locomotion, for August saw the publication of another of the technical studies I contributed to, this time Luke Muscutt et al.’s work on flipper function, vortices and thrust production in plesiosaurs (Muscutt et al. 2017). This work has been so discussed at conferences and even on TV and in the popular media that, frankly, its publication didn’t create the surprise it might have done (err, well done Luke…) – a phenomenon we term the Baron or Ornithoscelida Effect – but it’s all good, and follow-up research is underway at the time of writing.
Dinosaur Art II (White 2017) saw print in August. I was scientific consultant for this work and had a hand in at least some of the text; a biographical section I penned on Mark Witton was axed in the end (I guess they didn’t like it... ha ha, I kid, I kid) but will be recycled here at Tet Zoo in the very near future.
In September I attended the SVPCA (Symposium on Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy) at the University of Birmingham where my conference poster was devoted to my Big Book project –- err, I mean -- I mean it was devoted to the history of reviews pertaining to vertebrate palaeontology. For the post-conference fieldtrip we visited the amazing Wollaton Hall, mostly for its outstandingly good exhibition on Chinese dinosaurs (featuring the actual fossils of such taxa as Microraptor, Caudipteryx and Sinosauropteryx). Even without the Chinese dinosaurs, Wollaton Hall – Wayne Manor in at least one movie – is home to tons of really impressive stuff, including taxiderm displays, wonderful dioramas and a good number of skeletons and other specimens. Thanks to the good graces of Adam Smith, myself, Bob Nicholls, Mike Taylor and Matt Wedel got to see a ton of stuff behind the scenes. It’s amazing what they have there.
Darin Croft’s Horned Armadillos and Rafting Monkeys was reviewed at Tet Zoo, a book I heartily endorse. Turtles were mostly finished for The Big Book and I’d now moved on to birds; I would be occupied with the bird section of the book right up to the close of the year. Across late September and early October I worked on stage at Manchester’s Trafford Centre with famous DJ Mike Toolan – this was all promotion for Dinosaurs in the Wild. It was great fun, and the Trafford Centre is an insane venue: basically, Las Vegas, but in Manchester. I used my time in Manchester to visit the SeaLife Centre there. Hm, you might recognise a theme going on in the background here.
Rodent week happened in early October, and jerboas were covered at Tet Zoo. Other topics covered at Tet Zoo at this time include the resurrection of the ichthyosaurid ichthyosaur Protoichthyosaurus. I did some filming at Colchester Zoo (Essex, UK) for a BBC documentary on the science of temperature – it meant spending a lot of time with the big Komodo dragon they have, which was cool. Colchester Zoo is home to a lot of good stuff (I hadn’t visited it before, which is weird given that it’s not all that far away). My day there inspired the Tet Zoo review that was published here in late October.
TetZooCon 2017. October’s biggest event was – of course – TetZooCon. The Tet Zoo report can be found here: write-ups of the meeting can also be found at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs, Raptormaniacs and at The Pixie Zoologist. As I’ve surely said before, we succeeded in filling up our brand-new venue (… The Venue), meaning that the 2018 meeting will have to be held at a new, even larger one (given that more people are surely due to attend than they did in 2017). While nothing is in place yet, the plan is for the 2018 meeting to be a two-dayer. More news on this in a few months (and follow the TetZooCon facebook page if interested).
And that is where we must stop – until next time!
For previous Tet Zoo birthday articles, see...
- Happy first birthday Tetrapod Zoology (part I)
- Happy first birthday Tetrapod Zoology (part II)
- Happy second birthday Tetrapod Zoology (part I)
- Tetrapods of 2007 (happy birthday Tet Zoo part II)
- Happy THIRD birthday Tet Zoo
- Tet Zoo = 4 years old today
- 2009, a year of Tet Zooery
- Four years of Tet Zoo: to infinity... and beyond!
- It is with some dismay that I announce Tet Zoo's first hemi-decade
- Tet Zoo 5th birthday extravaganza, part II
- Happy Birthday Tetrapod Zoology: SIX YEARS of blogging
- Happy 6th Birthday, Tetrapod Zoology (part II)
- Tetrapod Zoology enters its 8th year of operation
- Today marks NINE YEARS of Tetrapod Zoology
- Tetrapod Zoology 10th-Birthday Extravaganza, Part 1: 2015 in Review
- Tetrapod Zoology 10th Birthday Extravaganza, Part II: the Rest of 2015 Reviewed
- Tetrapod Zoology 10th-Birthday Extravaganza, Part 3: Tet Zoo's Tetrapod Treatment in 2015
- Today Is Tet Zoo's 11th Birthday
- The 12th Year of Tet Zoo
Refs - -
Cawley, J. J. & Kriwet, J. 2017. A new pycnodont fish, Scalacurvichthys naishi gen. et sp. nov., from the Late Cretaceous of Israel. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology doi: 10.1080/14772019.2017.1330772
Muscutt, L. E., Dyke, G., Weymouth, G. D., Naish, D., Palmer, C. & Ganapathisubramani, B. 2017. The four-flipper swimming method of plesiosaurs enabled efficient and effective locomotion. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284, 20170951.
Naish, D. 2017a. Q&A: Darren Naish. BBC Focus June 2017, 92.
White, S. 2017. Dinosaur Art II. Titan Books, London.