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Thursday, March 15, 2012

120 Kilopods Turns One

Blue Whale skeleton at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC

Well, it's been one year since my first post on this blog, and since I began this challenge. I've posted 175 species, in five different countries, on two (and a half) continents.

American black bear in Yosemite National Park

Here's a brief summary of what I've seen, in graph form. Blue represents my tetrapods, red represents the total numbers of tetrapods.

Tetrapod species breakdown by group
The phylogenetic purists amongst you may take issue with my use of the group "Reptile". While commonly used as one of the four divisions of the tetrapods, reptiles is not an evolutionarily "real" group, or clade, as the birds fall within the other reptilian groups. The closest living relatives of the birds are the crocodilians, and the two together form the archosaurs, along with the extinct dinosaurs and pterosaurs. The archosaurs are then the sister group of the lepidosaurians, which includes lizards, snakes, amphisbaenians and tuatara. The testudines (turtles, tortoises and terrapins) are in turn the sister group to all the other extant reptiles. Much more information can be found on the Reptile article on Wikipedia.

For practical reasons I didn't break the reptiles down into these groups, as the lepidosaurians make up 96% of all the non-avian reptiles, so the other two groups wouldn't even be visible on this graph. As for my numbers, I saw 8 lepidosaurians (4.57% of all my tets), 1 testudine (0.57%) and 1 crocodilian.

Tetrapod species breakdown by country
Put another way, I have seen about 7% of the total number of tetrapods found in Canada and New Zealand, and about 1.5% of the tetrapods in each of Mexico, USA and Australia.

Tetrapod species breakdown by IUCN redlist classification: Ex Extinct; Ew Extinct in the Wild; Cr Critically Endangered; En Endangered; Vu Vulnerable; Cd Low risk-Conservation dependent; Nt Near Threatened; Lc Least Concern; Dd Data Deficient; Ne Not Evaluated.
Unsurprisingly I've mostly seen species in the Least Concern category, as they represent just under 50% of all tetrapod species, and not being endangered are also the more common species.

Some milestones from the past year include species number 30 (or 0.1% of all the tetrapods), the hairy woodpecker Picoides villosus; and species number 100, the groove-billed ani - not just a significant number, but a bird I've been interested in for some time (though I'm not entirely sure why).

Unidentified hummingbird at Lake Catemaco, Mexico

On average I've seen almost one tetrapod every two days, a rate I'm pleased with, though I'd like to get more. For the next year I am setting myself a goal of 365 species. I don't have any major travel planned, like my trip to the USA and Mexico last year, which will make things a bit less easy, but I think I can get it done.

Great egret at Lake Catemaco, Mexico

As for my readership, well... I won't embarrass myself by quoting numbers, but I can tell you that January this year had the highest number of hits by far, though I expect March to overtake it very soon, and February is coming in third. The top 5 most popular posts are:
1. #160 Tieke
2. #159 Popokatea
3. #54 Acorn Woodpecker
4. #90 Emerald-chinned Hummingbird
5. #77 Eastern Phoebe

Takahē on Tiritiri Matangi Island
So that's it, one year, 366 days of tetrapods. Here's to the next.


  1. Hello man, i'm very interested in your challenge, i've been reading some of your posts (the mexico's birds ones) and i found the name for many species I saw when I was living in Mazunte and other sites in Oaxaca (I was searching them since a year cos' i have no guide to all mexican species, so thanks!). I study Biology in the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico city, and i'm very happy to see your work around the world. I'm a birdwatcher (in Mexico the nature observers are not so common as in US) and i have the challenge of seeing the most birds in my city (330+ spp.), but of course like many biologists (and as you say) i would like to see every living thing in this world.

    I've joined to your blog to keep contact with the new entries, and maybe i can make some observations. By the way, have you found the names of the two lizards photographed in the UNAM? Maybe I can give you the name of at least one.

    Good luck! I will be pending of your work!

  2. Hi Diego,

    Thank you very much for your interest! I'm glad my posts helped you to identify the birds that you saw. I also had trouble finding a guide to the birds of Mexico, luckily the library at my university in New Zealand had a copy of Birds of Mexico and Central America, by Ber van Perlo (Princeton University Press).

    Good luck with your challenge to see all of the birds of your city! I look forward to hearing about your progress. If you want to send me a description of what you've seen so far, I would definitely be interested in hearing about it, and maybe putting it up on the blog.

    I have not had much luck with the lizards I couldn't identify at UNAM, or the others around Mexico. I have posted some of them on iNaturalist (, so maybe someone will know.

    1. Hi again.

      Of course i would like to send you something about the birds i have seen here in Mexico City. I'm part of a bird watching group called AvesFC, we have a blog that's not a big deal and is in spanish ( As soon as I can I'll write and send something in english.

      You know, Mexico has a rich reptile biodiversity, so i think i can get a good guide. I know some herpetologists that can help me to identify (at least the genus) of your lizards. As someone commented in your photo in, I found that the genus is Sceloporus. I'm pretty sure that the species is S. torquatus (I saw it in a book about the Pedregal of San Angel, that is the scrub area where the UNAM is ubicated). I promise i will do my best to help you to identify your lizards, just because.

      Good look, keep in touch! (sorry if my english is unclear)

    2. Hi Diego,

      thanks for your help with my lizards! I have been looking at your blog at AvesFC, it looks like you have been having some very interesting times. Unfortunately my spanish is not very good, so I have to translate it with Google, but I am working to improve my spanish, and I want to return to Mexico soon.

      Your english, however, is very good!