Wednesday, October 5, 2016

TetZooCon 2016

One of the (many) perks of coming over to study in the UK is the opportunity to attend TetZooCon. Though I am a resident of the Tet Zoo Empire, there had always been considerable geographic distance separating me from the physical headquarters of Tetrapod Zoology until now. Naturally, I had no intention of missing such an opportunity, even if I had to catch a train at 5:30 in the morning to get there.

It was as grand as I'd imagined. Darren Naish himself has already ably summarized the main events of the day, so I won't attempt to do the same. My personal favorite presentations were John Hutchinson's fascinating exhibition of recent advances in kneecap research and Dave Unwin's charismatic talk on pterosaur reproductive biology, but all of the speakers were excellent.

Seeing Bob Nicholls's Psittacosaurus model in the flesh was a treat, and trying to make our own Psittacosaurus out of plasticine was great fun. One of my favorite results from that exercise was that someone had decided to make a model of the original fossil specimen instead of the living animal! (Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of that model and am unaware of who was responsible for its creation.*)

*Edit: Alexander Lovegrove has identified himself as the creator of the plasticine fossil, but also lacks a photo of it.

Nicholls's model (left) and mine (right). Obvious spitting images of each other.
I had some time remaining after I completed my Psittacosaurus, so I quickly put together a Repenomamus nemesis for it. However, at some point during the convention someone decided to rearrange to two to be side by side, evidently suggesting that they should be friends instead.

Per TetZooCon convention (heh heh), the official events of the day ended with a quiz. Though notoriously challenging in past years, I had a feeling while taking it that Darren had made it easier this time around, which he later confirmed. Nonetheless, to my surprise I earned second place in high scores (tied with Kai Casper) and the honor of picking from a selection of prizes. (I ended up walking away with a print of John's All Yesterdays Parasaurolophus.)

Following suit from last year's SVP, I included "Albertonykus" as part of my name tag to make myself more identifiable to others, but it turned out that at this gathering introducing myself as the co-creator of TetZoo Time earned even more recognition! In addition to finally meeting Darren Naish and John Conway in person, I had the pleasure of running into others who I'd previously only known online, including Juan Yu See, Jack Wood, Alexander Lovegrove, Niroot Puttapipat, Richard Nicklin ("Yodelling Cyclist"), and more. It's too bad none of the TetZoo Time crew could meet up this year, but here's hoping I'll still be in the area for next TetZooCon.

One regret I have is not bringing my copy of Tetrapod Zoology: Book One to the convention for Darren to sign. (I even have the "limited edition" in which the title is misspelled "Tetrapood Zoology" on the spine!) However, that wasn't something I'd thought ahead about while packing for grad school.

A few words should be said about the venue itself, the London Wetland Centre. Understandably, we didn't have much time to explore the place ourselves, but from what little I saw it was a wonderful haven for captive and wild animals alike, particularly waterfowl, excellently showcasing local avifauna such as rose-ringed parakeets and Egyptian geese. (For real though, there was plenty of native wildlife to see!) I did not have my good camera with me and thus don't have any pictures to share, but if I ever make a dedicated trip to the wetland centre (and I intend to) I will make certain to report back.


  1. "Seeing Bob Nicholls's Psittacosaurus model in the flesh was a treat,"

    It's too bad said model wasn't revealed sooner b/c I think it would've made the perfect cover for Naish/Barrett 2016 (in reference to #GiveDarrenABetterCover).

    BTW, did you get a copy of said book while you were there?

    1. Getting a copy did cross my mind, but I was so distracted by everything else that, by the time I was ready to purchase, they had sold out! I've ordered it on Amazon though so I'll have it in due time.

    2. Alternatively (in reference to my Psittacosaurus comment), they could've just taken Nicholls's Archaeopteryx off the back cover, made it bigger, & put it on the front cover.