Reasons to Attend TetZooCon 2018

The end of September is approaching, which means we’re getting worryingly close to the start of October and hence to the TetZoo-themed event of the year: TetZooCon, this year happening on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th October (at The Venue, Malet Street, London).

 Our 2018 banner. It incorporates illustrations produced by participants in the palaeoart workshop of 2017 and looks pretty neat.

Our 2018 banner. It incorporates illustrations produced by participants in the palaeoart workshop of 2017 and looks pretty neat.

If you want to come along but haven’t yet bought a ticket, you’d better hurry up and do so, since time’s nearly up and we have to stop selling soon. Go here if you’re interested. This article is essentially a last call, and also a reminder of how much awesome stuff we have happening this year. It’s by far the biggest TetZooCon yet. So…

 My god, we have some amazing merchandise on sale this year (read on for more). Once again, Rebecca Groom will be selling her palaeoplushies — last year, the WHOLE LOT sold out before lunch. Image: (c) Rebecca Groom/palaeoplushies.

My god, we have some amazing merchandise on sale this year (read on for more). Once again, Rebecca Groom will be selling her palaeoplushies — last year, the WHOLE LOT sold out before lunch. Image: (c) Rebecca Groom/palaeoplushies.

Aron Ra – best known for his work as an atheist activist and his countering of creationists and other anti-science types – is joining us to talk about his Phylogeny Explorer Project. Aron has a vast international following and it’s a real coup to get him as a speaker.

 Two of many TetZooCon 2018 speakers. Left: Ian Redmond; right: Aron Ra. Images: (c) Ian Redmond, (c) Aron Ra.

Two of many TetZooCon 2018 speakers. Left: Ian Redmond; right: Aron Ra. Images: (c) Ian Redmond, (c) Aron Ra.

Ian Redmond – conservationist, primate and elephant expert, famous for his association with Dian Fossey, David Attenborough and the Rwandan gorillas – is speaking about his contributions to conservation and education. His talk is titled ‘The Reluctant Conservationist, 40 Years On: From Gorilla Parasites and Poachers to Virtual Safaris’.

We have an entire section of talks devoted to bird evolution – covering fossil history and phylogeny, the distribution and diversity of modern birds, and how birds are adapting to the human world – as well as a roundtable discussion on the same subject. Speakers and panellists are Robyn Womack, Albert Chen, Caitlin Kight, Hanneke Meijer and Glyn Young.

 This image has no special relevance to any of the TetZooCon bird talks, but here it is anyway. It’s a (now somewhat dated) bird phylogeny, produced for my 2014 paper on bird palaeobehaviour ( available here ). Image: Darren Naish.

This image has no special relevance to any of the TetZooCon bird talks, but here it is anyway. It’s a (now somewhat dated) bird phylogeny, produced for my 2014 paper on bird palaeobehaviour (available here). Image: Darren Naish.

Katrina van Grouw is talking about her amazing new book Unnatural Selection and the work behind it; Katrina will also be selling and signing copies of the book, and copies of her previous work The Unfeathered Bird too. Unnatural Selection is about the themes and patterns of evolution as revealed through the variation we’ve discovered via the selective breeding of domestic animals, not about domestic animals per se, and it’s a phenomenal tour de force that I cannot recommend highly enough. Some previous comments on the book can be found here.

 Katrina van Grouw (with duck), and the cover of her amazing 2018 book  Unnatural Selection  (to be reviewed here, hopefully soon). Images: (c) Katrina van Grouw.

Katrina van Grouw (with duck), and the cover of her amazing 2018 book Unnatural Selection (to be reviewed here, hopefully soon). Images: (c) Katrina van Grouw.

On Sunday, we have an on-stage discussion about Speculative Biology involving Gert van Dijk (of Furahan Biology and Allied Matters) and Dougal Dixon (After Man, The New Dinosaurs, Green World, The Future is Wild etc). Both will be discussing their own projects, their thoughts on SpecBio in general, and the past, present and future of the movement. Dougal will also be signing copies of the new edition of After Man and is also bringing along archive material relevant to some of his projects: I hope it will include some of the pieces brought to the recent After Man event at Conway Hall, but there will be other stuff too…

 A SpecBio montage relevant to TetZooCon 2018. At left: the Vortex from Dougal Dixon’s 1981  After Man . At right: Gert van Dijk, here photographed at the LonCon 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in 2014. Images: Dixon 1981, Darren Naish.

A SpecBio montage relevant to TetZooCon 2018. At left: the Vortex from Dougal Dixon’s 1981 After Man. At right: Gert van Dijk, here photographed at the LonCon 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in 2014. Images: Dixon 1981, Darren Naish.

World famous distinguished herpetologist and author Mark O’Shea joins us to talk about a detective story concerning the snakes of New Guinea and is also selling and signing copies of his brand-new, 656-page The Book of Snakes. Mark is also showing a short movie about reptiles. I’ve long hoped to have Mark as a TetZooCon speaker so am thrilled to have him with us this year.

 We have Professor Mark O’Shea! Mark will be selling and signing his new book. Images: (c) Mark O’Shea.

We have Professor Mark O’Shea! Mark will be selling and signing his new book. Images: (c) Mark O’Shea.

Film-maker, zoologist and author Lucy Cooke is also with us, and will be speaking about her neat 2018 book The Truth About Animals (originally titled The Unexpected Truth About Animals), which she’ll also be selling and signing. I must remember to ask her if she any copies of her previous book, A Little Book of Sloth, because who doesn’t like books on sloths?

 Lucy Cooke and equine friends, and the cover of her 2018 book  The Truth About Animals  (which I’m planning to review here later this year). Images: (c) Lucy Cooke, Darren Naish.

Lucy Cooke and equine friends, and the cover of her 2018 book The Truth About Animals (which I’m planning to review here later this year). Images: (c) Lucy Cooke, Darren Naish.

As per usual, John Conway is leading our Palaeoart Workshop: an interactive event in which – no doubt – something great is planned, I’m sure. The workshop occurs in parallel to some of the talks in a separate room. John is joined by Bob Nicholls, Mark Witton, Luis Rey and Steve White; Mark, Luis and Steve will be giving talks on (variously) the future of palaeoart (Mark), bringing dinosaurs back to life (Luis) and dinosaurs as portrayed in comics (Steve). There will also be palaeoart-themed book signings and a chance to meet the artists and see their latest projects.

 The 2018 palaeoart workshop is going to be outstanding. We have Bob Nicholls (though he won’t be bringing the lifesized pliosaur head with him, alas); Mark Witton will be selling  The Palaeoartist’s Handbook . I’ve been lucky enough to see a copy and…. it’s one of the most spectacular books I’ve ever seen, I love it. Images: (c) Bob Nicholls, Mark Witton.

The 2018 palaeoart workshop is going to be outstanding. We have Bob Nicholls (though he won’t be bringing the lifesized pliosaur head with him, alas); Mark Witton will be selling The Palaeoartist’s Handbook. I’ve been lucky enough to see a copy and…. it’s one of the most spectacular books I’ve ever seen, I love it. Images: (c) Bob Nicholls, Mark Witton.

While that’s not everything, I think that’ll do. For the first time, we’re having a drinks reception and conference meal (sold out, I’m afraid). There are additional talks on whales, extinct elephants, snakes, music in wildlife documentaries and – oh – the Dinosaurs in the Wild project (from me). There will also be a quiz (with numerous amazing prizes, as usual), additional book signings, and a substantial amount of merchandise on sale. I’m also intending to lead a post-conference fieldtrip to the Crystal Palace dinosaurs on the Monday morning.

 An amazing display of merchandise will be on sale at TetZooCon this year, be sure to bring £££. These dromaeosaur-themed mugs will be there, and are by the inimitable Jed Taylor, what a star. Image: Jed Taylor.

An amazing display of merchandise will be on sale at TetZooCon this year, be sure to bring £££. These dromaeosaur-themed mugs will be there, and are by the inimitable Jed Taylor, what a star. Image: Jed Taylor.

And that, as they say, is that. Again: tickets and more information can be found here. I look forward to seeing many of you there. Watch #TetZooCon for tweeting. All I have to do now is find time to finish getting things ready.

For articles on previous TetZooCons, see…