Blog / Tetrapod Zoology
is a blog by British paleontologist and zoologist Dr. Darren Naish that covers varied topics regarding tetrapods (mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians both extinct and extant). It is widely considered one of the best (if not the
best) zoological blogs in the blogosphere, for although Naish is a dinosaur paleontologist by profession, he maintains a healthy interest in tetrapods of all kinds and his knowledge on them can border on almost-terrifying levels. Due to the blog's diverse content as well as its frequent coverage of obscure tetrapods
and obscure facts on well-known tetrapods
, readers are almost guaranteed
to learn something new. Unusually for the Internet, the comment sections on the blog are often just as valuable and informative as the blog posts themselves due to a tendency for readers (as well as Naish himself) to provide additional information and discussions in the comments. It also has a podcast, which is found, with John Conway, here
. There's also a Twitter feed
The blog started out on Blogspot
in 2006, then moved to Scienceblogs
in 2007. In 2011, it moved to Scientific American
. Naish also made the majority of his technical papers (several of which were covered on his blog) freely available here
This work provides examples of the following tropes:
- Always a Bigger Fish: Predatory animals frequently attack other predators.
- Ascended to Carnivorism: Real life examples of this are a fairly common topic, such as cows & deer that eat birds.
- Australian Wildlife
- Bat Out of Hell: Not literally of course, but the hypercarnivorous ghost bats and (more unexpectedly) noctule bats can give off this vibe. The evolution of vampire bats has also been covered.
- Bears Are Bad News
- Beware the Nice Ones: Naish normally allows cranks to comment as they please. (Thankfully, as far as popular blogs go there Tet Zoo hasn't suffered as many cranks as one might expect.) But when he does decide to reply to them, or finds that one really has overstepped the mark... Though by that time the crank is likely to have been already torn apart by regular Tet Zoo commenters who are less likely to hold back. And God help you if he actually writes an entire post in response to something a crank has said.
- Big Eater: The various animals in the "overenthusiastic swallowing" series, which covers instances where animals swallow things too large for them. A few examples have the swallowers surviving the ordeal, but most aren't that lucky.
- Circling Vultures
- Clam Trap: There was a series of posts showing how this sometimes happens to shorebirds. It usually ends badly for the birds.
- Clever Crows
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Essentially any "debate" between a crank and Naish or regular commenter David Marjanović goes this way.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The April Fools' joke on the scientific discovery of the Mokele Mbembe mentions "coelacanths" multiple times while listing "living fossils".note
- Dolphins, Dolphins Everywhere
- Everything's Better with Cows: Especially those that eat birds.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Naturally, as Naish is a dinosaur paleontologist.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys
- Everything's Better with Penguins
- Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: Yes, in spite of them not being tetrapods.
- Extreme Omnivore: Gulls are known to eat cellphones and entire sets of toy soldiers, among other things.
- Feathered Fiend: Notably, the first ever Tet Zoo post covered eagle attacks on large prey (possibly including humans). Other topics on this trope have included aggression in cassowaries, aggression in steamer ducks, the brutality of bird fights, a video of a hooded crow pair goading two cats into fighting one another, etc.
- Giant Flyer: Vultures and azhdarchid pterosaurs have both been covered on the blog.
- Giant Swimmer: Whales, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, etc.
- One of the only times Tet Zoo has ever dedicated a post to a non-tetrapod it was to the giant Jurassic fish Leedsichthys. Ironically, the post was about how said fish was probably not as large as often reported. It was still large enough to fit this trope though.
- Herbivores Are Friendly: As anyone well versed in zoology knows, this is definitely not (always) the case. Several posts have covered instances of normally herbivorous animals eating meat (as well as otherwise being aggressive).
- Kidnapping Bird of Prey: Naish's very first blog essay focused on this. The conclusion he reached was that large eagles are definitely capable of killing a small child, and that this has probably happened, but not necessarily of carrying one off.
- Killer Rabbit: Tapirs can kill people, great tits eat bat brains, softshell turtles can overturn boats, noctule bats hunt birds, steamer ducks beat up other waterfowl apparently for the heck of it...
- Lizard Folk: Naish really dislikes this trope as applied to hypothetical sapient dinosaurs, and he's not the only one.
- Mega Neko: Some posts have covered abnormally large feral cats.
- Misplaced Wildlife: This post mentions Spinosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus and Rugops all living together. However, Spinosaurus came from the Baharija and Kem Kem beds of Egypt & Morocco, whereas Rugops was found in the Nigerian Echkar formation (Carcharodontosaurus has been found in all those places).
- Mundane Made Awesome: Would you believe that rabbits are among "the freakiest of all mammals"?
- Babirusa are pigs with constantly growing tusks. If they let them grow too long, though, the tusks pierce their own skull.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: Somewhat averted, as the frugivory in alligators (and caiman) post shows. Played straight, however, in the post about crocodylians using sticks to lure waterbirds to their deaths.
- Noble Wolf/Savage Wolves
- Not Quite Flight: Various gliding tetrapods have been covered, most notably lemurs. No, not flying lemurs (colugos). Actual lemurs. Really.
- Panthera Awesome: Aside from posts on regular big cats, "alien big cats" (rumored sightings of big cats far from their natural range) are a common topic.
- Prickly Porcupine
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Many blog posts cover conferences Naish attends as well as publications Naish has worked on.
- Running Gag: There's a recurring gag among commenters that someone will guess "gorgonopsian" or "ropen" whenever Naish does any "guess the animal" posts.
- Another running gag is Naish's utter fanboyism over babirusa, even leading to a picture of him mounting a babirusa like a horse.
- The fact that the discovery of the kabomani tapir was mentioned in two podcasts in a row has led to subsequent jokes that Naish and Conway need to mention it in every podcast. They even have merchandise of it.
- The longest comment thread in the history of the blog made "Permian bears" a running gag for a while.note
- Seldom-Seen Species: Too many to list.
- Something Completely Different: There were a few cases when Naish wrote posts about animals that aren't tetrapods. This was also the way he celebrated the 300th post at Tet Zoo V. 3.
- Stock Animal Diet: As many posts show, most animals in real life do not stick to these.
- Stock Animal Facts: Often averted, but apparently not even Naish can come up with much new for basilisk lizards.
- Stock Dinosaurs: All of them, and then some.
- Swans A-Swimming: Highly aggressive ones, at that.
- Take That!: Sometimes towards various fringe groups, particularly in the April Fools' posts. Naish is also known for heavily criticizing the original "dinosauroid" thought experiment. He's also jabbed at the Clash of the Dinosaurs incident.
- Taking You with Me: Shown heavily in the "overenthusiastic swallowing" series, where many predators are shown choking to death on prey too large or spiny to swallow. Ditto the "when bivalves attack" series, which talks about seabirds getting parts of their bodies caught by bivalves and often dying.
- Threatening Shark: Sharks are not tetrapods, of course, but have been mentioned in passing, and on two occasions Naish actually devoted a full post to them.
- Toothy Bird: Mesozoic birds, of course, are also covered, and many of them had teeth.
- Turtle Power
- Tyrannosaurus rex
- Vegetarian Carnivore: Fruit-eating alligators.
- One post also had Naish objecting to a proposal suggesting that predators should be converted to herbivory if possible.
- Inverted, of course, with the posts on carnivory in deer and cows.