The Tropidurus Genus & Struggling with Taxonomy

Ah taxonomy…thou art a beautiful and heartless bitch. If you’ve ever looked into the tropidurus genus post 1979, you know what I’m talking about!

It’s not uncommon for friends and family to send or show me photographs of reptiles and amphibians they encounter during their holidays. They often ask me to identify the species, and usually, this can be done fairly easily - especially when you know exactly where the individual was found. However, some species can be very hard to differentiate by image and location alone.

My brother found the individual displayed in the above photograph in Rio de Janeiro a few years ago. Truthfully, I had never paid much attention to this genus before, and figuring out the species became even more complicated the more I looked into it. As Frost, et al. (2001, pp.352) very eloquently put in their publication, “from 1979 to present (…) effort on the elucidation of the systematics of the taxon has increased, seemingly exponentially”. In his 1987 paper, Rodrigues gives us a brief history of the genus and the species that were once recognised under it. Boulenger (1885) was the first attempt at revising the then established norm that the genus encompassed about 15 different species but Boulenger maintained only 3 species from the fifteen - Tropidurus hygomi, Tropidurus torquatus and Tropidurus hispidus.

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Hiking in Cornwall

Back in September, Alex, Casper and I spent a week in Cornwall on a hiking trip with the in-laws. The trip was really fun and Cornwall was, as expected, incredibly beautiful. We stayed at a little boutique dog friendly hotel in Penzance called Artist Residence. The room included a little dog bed and they even provided Casper with some yummy dog treats! I shared a few photos and videos of the trip on my instagram. However, I thought that I would mark this trip by sharing a few of the highlights on my blog.

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TetZooCon 2018

TetZooCon this year was a two day event that took place at UCL on the 6th and 7th October. Unfortunately, due to health reasons I was unable to attend the last day - though I did follow it on twitter using the hashtag #TetZooCon. If you’ve never heard of TetZooCon or Darren Naish’s famous Tetrapod Zoology blog (aka Tet Zoo), you are seriously missing out. TetZooCon is an annual meeting that features talks and workshops on topics explored in the Tet Zoo blog.

As herpetology is my main area of interest, it’s no surprise that I was very much looking forward to Mark O’Shea’s talk on his latest paper dealing with forensic historical herpetology and, of course, my good friend Steve Allain’s presentation about his upcoming PhD research on snake fungal disease. However, I have to say that I enjoyed all of it! TetZooCon 2018 seemed to have something for everyone, from Palaeoart Workshops to composer Fiona Taylor’s talk about music for wildlife documentaries, it’s fair to say that if you like animals in general, you’d have enjoyed it!

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