TetZooCon was fantastic and I was very glad to have gone! Sadly i discovered my Ipod was full while I was there so no photos :c though I did manage to delete a few and snap some ducks!
Darren Naish (who I managed to shake hands with at one point, it’s kind of a blur) presented the first talk on the history and future of speculative zoology, it was very well researched and really interesting, and I felt very special to own one of the Dougal Dixon books he referenced :P
Mark Witton, author of the brilliant “Pterosaurs”, was next, and talked about the history of depictions of Azhdarchid pterosaurs, the kind of topic I find very interesting, and Azhdarchids are some of the most amazing animals the fossil record has brought to light so you knew it had to be great :P. He also talked about some unpublished research which was indescribably awesome in its implications, but none of us could tweet about so I shall not describe it here.
The next talk was about mermaids, and was presented by Paolo Pascardi, who I’m fairly sure has been on MonsterTalk at some point, regardless his talk felt a lot like a MonsterTalk episode, as he discussed what exactly all these fake mermaids are made of and why they were made, from Japanese images of nature spirits to travelling curiosities. It was extremely interesting and I learned a lot.
Carole Jahme was next, talking about Shakespeare’s Caliban and how he fits into contemporary ideas about apes and the semi-fictional monstrous humans described by people like Pliny. She seemed a less confident public speaker than the rest but the topic was fascinating.
After lunch Helen Meredith, who incidentally is a really nice person, talked about some real and extant tetrapods for a change, with the topic of “What have amphibians ever done for us?”. Her talk was packed with information and she was an excellent and enthusiastic conveyor of all the amazing things amphibians can do.
Next Mike Taylor did his best to convince us that all life is inferior to sauropod dinosaurs, and made a very good case, talking about the beautifully intricate structures that are sauropod neck vertebrae and how they allow them to put all other animals that attempt to have long necks to shame.
Next was the Paleoart Workshop, which worked really well! John Conway, Mark Witton and Bob Nicholls joined forces to interpret an old photo of an even older jumble of bones and reconstruct the living animal, while the audience made their attempts. Most everyone eventually realised it was an Iguanodon, but all three artists went with the idea that they had just discovered the fossil and were basing their reconstructions on extant animals. Bob’s was an enormous marine iguana, John’s was a “big-arsed” bird and Mark’s was a stocky, bipedal generic reptile. Some of the audience attempts were very impressive, some intentionally hilarious, though we won’t talk about mine…
Later, photographer Neil Phillips shared some of his absolutely stunning collection of photos of British Wildlife, along with some anecdotes. Brilliant stuff, and after the talks he was photographing every duck in site.
Then there was a quiz! While I only managed to get 11/30, only about a third of the audience got over 10 so I’m proud :P
The day ended with a tour of the Wetlands Centre, which is a fantastic and beautiful place, especially considering it’s in the heart of London.
To my absolute delight, John Conway was signing books, and I’d brought my copies of All Yesterdays and Cryptozoologicon Vol. 1! He sketched this little dromaeosaur in the former which made me far too happy.
He also sketched something in the Cryptozoologicon, but as it’s a sneak peek of Vol. 2, I feel i shouldn’t show it here :3
I also got this adorable plush pliosaur! Much kudos to Palaeoplushies!
So overall I had a great time! I didn’t recognise Marc and Naroot from Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs, which is a shame because I love that blog! But otherwise yay :) Expect a post about the Natural History Museum at some point tomorrow, but I shall rest for now.