Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads

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#SciFri: From stoned sloths to farting fish…

Those of you that read this blog regularly or follow me on social media will know that I enjoy reading books. Most of the books I read are popular science but there are the occasional fiction stories thrown in there to mix things up a bit. On 15th November 2018, an event was held at ZSL London Zoo highlighting the release of a number of amazing zoologically themed books (see the photo below), titled ‘From stoned sloths to farting fish…’ that I just had to attend! The event was organised by the zoologically talented Dani Rabaiotti who released ‘Does it Fart?‘ last year along with Nick Caruso and Ethan Kokak. The New York Times Bestselling team are back on the trail again with the recently released ‘True or Poo?‘. The aim of the event was to raise awareness of quirky wildlife books that have recently been published that people may not be aware of.

The title slide for the main event

As well as Dani, there were talks by the UK’s premiere dinosaur palaeontologist Dr. Darren Naish, sloth (and amphibian) lover Lucy Cooke and the very entertaining yet knowledgeable Jules Howard. Personally I don’t think you could have picked a better line-up for such an event, each author has their own level of enthusiasm for their given subject and I’m so glad I attended. My favourite talk was by Jules, he gave a very interesting viewpoint to a level of anatomy that we often forget about. Every amateur naturalist knows the lengths some scientists have gone to study male genitals of different species, what hasn’t been studied in as much detail is that of wildlife vaginas. To help progress things, Jules took us all on a 3D virtual tour of the inside of a duck vagina (probably that of a mallard) stopping along the way to highlight other weird and wonderful lady parts found in other wildlife.

This may have been a sensitive issue for younger members of the audience but it is something that I’d never thought of before, the huge lack of research looking into the evolution of animal vaginas. Hopefully with this presentation and the relatively recent release of ‘Sex on Earth‘, it has helped push more people to answer questions about female animal genitals that have gone unanswered for centuries. Darren also touched on this slightly on his presentation about dinosaurs, talking about speculation about sexual adornments and how these massive animals may have actually mated. If like me you love dinosaurs, then please do go and buy Darren’s book ‘Dinosaurs: How they lived and evolved‘ as you will not be disappointed!

Everybody sat down for the Q&A session (sorry for the terrible quality)

After everyone had given their talk, there was a brief Q&A session before a book signing event. The questions coming from the crowd were all very relevant and covered a couple of thoughts I had in my mind, coming from attendees of all ages. At the book signing, I finally managed to pick up a copy of Lucy’s new book ‘The Unexpected Truth About Animals‘, which I was supposed to have done at TetZooCon. The only thing stopping me then was the fact that I’d spent all of my money of other books and merchandise. It was also good to catch up with all of the speakers and some friends that also attended the event. I’d just like to thank Dani for organising such an amazing event, all of the speakers for their time and also the wonderful conversations we had afterwards – you guys rock!


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