Happy first birthday Tetrapod Zoology (part II)
Tetrapod Zoology: horribly biased
As mentioned in the previous post, given that I do not blog ‘to a plan’, I want to know what the spread of subjects I’ve blogged about might tell me. Might they reflect my ‘real’ interests, or might they perhaps indicate which areas within tetrapod zoology are currently the most happening, interesting or sexy? I don’t know, but I find the results pretty surprising. In terms of broad coverage of subject areas, we see from the adjacent graph [click for larger version, of course] that I’ve written more about reptiles (including birds) than I have about other tetrapod groups. It’s also notable that the number of miscellaneous posts – those that cover various assorted crap and aren’t really focused on any one group of animals – is reasonably high.
The prevalence of reptiles is not so surprising, given that I specialize on dinosaurs and other Mesozoic reptiles, but what does surprise me is how the reptiles break down when we look at them by group. Turtles, crurotarsans (the clade that includes crocodilians and their extinct relatives) and pterosaurs are equally represented, but with only a few posts each. Despite (or, perhaps, because of) the fact that I have just been working on them for seven years, non-avian theropods haven’t featured heavily. I must rectify this. Squamates (lizards, snakes and kin) do a bit better, and would have featured even more on the blog if I’d gotten round to finishing the articles I’ve started on sea snakes, island-endemic lizards and anguids. The two most surprising groups are sauropods (represented by 10 posts), and birds (represented by 24 posts). Yikes, does this mean that I’m more ‘interested’ in sauropods and birds – and even squamates – than in non-avian theropods? It’s something for me to think about. The prevalence of birds is just downright scary: more on it in a moment.
A similarly surprising thing happens when we break down all the mammal posts. Of the groups covered (and keep in mind that a vast number of areas haven’t been covered at all), hoofed mammals are out in front, and rodents and primates are reasonably well represented. This surprises me because I’d always imagined that these were the least interesting mammals: way outclassed by marsupials, monotremes, pangolins, bats and xenarthrans. Yet I’ve hardly blogged at all on any of these topics. Yikes, do I really find deer and voles more interesting than sloths, thylacines and echidnas? Again, it’s something I’ll have to think about, and perhaps aim to rectify in future.
Looking at subject areas broken down more specifically (this time across all material covered), the overall picture is, again, somewhat surprising. Lissamphibians feature poorly and Palaeozoic and Mesozoic amphibian groups like lepospondyls and temnospondyls don’t feature at all. This is bad as I actually spent a lot of time doing research on these groups in 2006. Rodents, primates and turtles are reasonably represented overall (which, again, surprises me as I just never imagined that I’d end up writing much about these groups). The red bars show those subject areas that were particularly well represented: miscellaneous stuff, hoofed mammals, sauropods and birds! There is no way this is what I would have predicted. The big score that birds get is worrying. Granted, I haven’t broken Aves down into constituent clades, so the results aren’t exactly balanced, but – again – I’m asking myself: does this really reflect my personal interests? Am I really more interested in birds than in other tetrapods? Or is it just that birds were particularly newsworthy in 2006? I think that the latter point is significant here, as the posts on eagle owls, phorusrhacids, the
For those who say nice things about my blog, the good news is that this is still just the beginning, and there is a vast amount of material I have yet to complete and post, or even write. Ironically, I still haven’t managed to complete many articles that I have started writing way back at the start of 2006, including those on temnospondyls, rhinogradentians, Haast’s eagle, Piltdown and amphisbaenians. To those looking forward to the posts on these subjects, all I can say it: please bear with me, they will be completed and posted eventually! As I’ve said before, if I could devote more time to blog writing I would. At the moment life gets in the way.
So, happy first birthday Tetrapod Zoology. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride so far. Many thanks to all those who have helped and supported me over the past year, to those who assist in obtaining literature, to those who advise and point out errors, to those who post comments, and to all who read and/or visit the blog [UPDATE: to see what happened next go here].