Friday, May 26, 2017

New Title


1) Ashton, Nick. Early Humans (Collins New Naturalist Library). 2017. William Collins. Paperback: 354 pages. Price: about $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Our understanding of the British Palaeolithic and Mesolithic has changed dramatically over the last three decades, and yet not since H. J. Fleure's A Natural History of Man in Britain (1951) has the New Naturalist Library included a volume focused on the study of early humans and their environment. In this long overdue new book, distinguished archaeologist Nick Ashton uncovers the most recent findings, following the remarkable survival and discovery of bones, stone tools and footprints which allow us to paint a picture of the first human visitors to this remote peninsula of north-west Europe. As part of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project and subsequent research, Ashton is involved in an unrivalled collaborative effort involving archaeologists, palaeontologists, and earth scientists at different British institutes, including the Natural History Museum and the British Museum.
     Using an interdisciplinary approach, the book explores the latest discoveries such as footprints at Happisburgh, Norfolk that are thought to be nearly one million years old, flint artefacts at Pakefield in Suffolk and mammoth remains at West Runton, among others. These remarkable remnants help our quest to unravel the interactions between the changing environments and their ancient human occupants, as well as their lifestyles and migrations. Early humans colonised our remote corner of the European mainland time and again, despite being faced with ice age climates with far-reaching consequences. Setting the scene on the Norfolk coast almost a million years ago, Ashton tells the story of the fauna, flora and developing geography of Britain against the backdrop of an ever-changing climate. Above all, he explores how early people began as brief visitors to this wild remote land, but over time through better ways of acquiring food and developing new technologies, they began to tame, shape and dominate the countryside we see today.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in British paleoanthropology and/or collect the New Naturalist series.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

New Title


1) Menkhorst, Peter et al.. The Australian Bird Guide. 2017. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 566 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Australian avifauna is large, diverse, and spectacular, reflecting the continent's impressive habitats and evolutionary history. Looking at more than 900 species, The Australian Bird Guide is the most comprehensive field guide on Australian birds available, and contains by far the best coverage of southern seabirds. With 249 color plates containing 4,000 stunning images, this book offers a far more in-depth treatment of subspecies, rarities, and overall plumage variation than comparative guides. The artwork meets the highest standards, and the text is rigorously accurate and current in terms of identification details, distribution, and status. The Australian Bird Guide sets a new bar for coverage of Australia's remarkable avifauna and is indispensable to all birders and naturalists interested in this area of the world, including the southern oceans.
  • Brand-new guide with an attractive look and design
  • 249 color plates containing 4,000 superb images by some of the most talented illustrators working in Australia today
  • Every bird species in Australia is covered (more than 900), including subspecies and rarities
  • Up-to-date maps reflect the latest information on distribution
  • Accurate and detailed text
 RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone birding Australia!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

New Title


1) Ascanio, David et al.. Birds of Venezuela (Helm Field Guides). 2017. Bloomsbury. Paperback: 592 pages. Price: $54.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Covering the sixth largest avifauna in the world, this important new guide is essential for anyone exploring the diverse habitats of this beautiful South American country. Birds of Venezuela - complete with authoritative text and superb colour plates - will ensure that this top birding destination is made accessible to all.
     This field guide has 248 colour plates illustrating more than 1,400 species, covering racial, sexual and seasonal plumage variations. Accompanying text is placed on facing pages for easy reference providing key information, voice and status of all species and subspecies found in the region, including Venezuela's 45 endemic species. Detailed colour distribution maps are provided for every species.
RECOMMENDATION: This book is more compact and up to date than the Hilty guide.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New Title


1) Prum, Richard. The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - and Us. 2017. Doubleday. Hardbound: 428 pages. Price: $30.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A major reimagining of how evolutionary forces work, revealing how mating preferences—what Darwin termed "the taste for the beautiful"—create the extraordinary range of ornament in the animal world.
     In the great halls of science, dogma holds that Darwin's theory of natural selection explains every branch on the tree of life: which species thrive, which wither away to extinction, and what features each evolves. But can adaptation by natural selection really account for everything we see in nature?
     Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum—reviving Darwin's own views—thinks not. Deep in tropical jungles around the world are birds with a dizzying array of appearances and mating displays: Club-winged Manakins who sing with their wings, Great Argus Pheasants who dazzle prospective mates with a four-foot-wide cone of feathers covered in golden 3D spheres, Red-capped Manakins who moonwalk. In thirty years of fieldwork, Prum has seen numerous display traits that seem disconnected from, if not outright contrary to, selection for individual survival. To explain this, he dusts off Darwin's long-neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons—for the mere pleasure of it—is an independent engine of evolutionary change.
    Mate choice can drive ornamental traits from the constraints of adaptive evolution, allowing them to grow ever more elaborate. It also sets the stakes for sexual conflict, in which the sexual autonomy of the female evolves in response to male sexual control. Most crucially, this framework provides important insights into the evolution of human sexuality, particularly the ways in which female preferences have changed male bodies, and even maleness itself, through evolutionary time.
     The Evolution of Beauty presents a unique scientific vision for how nature's splendor contributes to a more complete understanding of evolution and of ourselves.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in evolutionary biology.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

New Title


1) Wesson, Rob. Darwin's First Theory: Exploring Darwin's Quest for a Theory of Earth. 2017. Pegasus Books. Hardbound: 457 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: An acclaimed geologist leads the reader on an adventure through the landscape that absorbed and inspired Charles Darwin.
     Everybody knows―or thinks they know―Charles Darwin, the father of evolution and the man who altered the way we view our place in the world. But what most people do not know is that Darwin was on board the HMS Beagle as a geologist―on a mission to examine the land, not flora and fauna.
     Retracing Darwin’s footsteps in South America and beyond, geologist Rob Wesson treks across the Andes, cruises waters charted by the Beagle, hunts for fossils in Uruguay and Argentina, and explores sites of long vanished glaciers in Scotland and Wales. As he follows Darwin’s path―literally and intellectually―Wesson experiences the land as Darwin did, engages with his observations, and tackles the same questions Darwin had about our ever-changing Earth.
     Upon his return from his five-year journey aboard the Beagle, after examining the effects of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and more, Darwin conceived his theory of subsidence and uplift‚―his first theory. These concepts and attitudes―the vastness of time; the enormous cumulative impact of almost imperceptibly slow change; change as a constant feature of the environment―underlie Darwin’s subsequent discoveries in evolution. And this peculiar way of thinking remains vitally important today as we enter the human-dominated Anthropocene age.
     Expertly interweaving science and adventure, Darwin’s First Theory is a riveting and revelatory journey around the world with one of the greatest scientific minds in history. 
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in Darwin and/or geological history.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

New Title



1) Rousseau, Élise and Yann Le Bris. Horses of the World. 2017. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 536 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A beautifully illustrated and detailed guide to the world's horses.
     Horses of the World is a comprehensive, large-format overview of 570 breeds of domestic and extant wild horses, including hybrids between the two and between domestic breeds and other equids, such as zebras. This beautifully illustrated and detailed guide covers the origins of modern horses, anatomy and physiology, variation in breeds, and modern equestrian practices. The treatment of breeds is organized by country within broader geographical regions--from Eurasia through Australasia and to the Americas. Each account provides measurements (weight and height), distribution, origins and history, character and attributes, uses, and current status. Every breed is accompanied by superb color drawings--600 in total--and color photographs can be found throughout the book.
     Describing and depicting every horse breed in existence, Horses of the World will be treasured by all who are interested in these gorgeous animals.
  • A unique large-format, field-guide approach that provides complete coverage of the world's 570 horse breeds
  • 600 superb color illustrations showcasing every breed
  • Additional color photos and maps
  • Accessible text offers detailed information on each breed, including measurements, distribution, origins and history, character and attributes, uses, and current status
 RECOMMENDATION: A must have for horse lovers!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New Title


1) Álvarez-Castañeda, Sergio Ticul et al.. Keys for Identifying Mexican Mammals (revised and updated edition). 2017. Johns Hopkins University Press. Paperback: 522 pages. Price: $44.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A remarkable achievement that took over 30 years to construct, Keys for Identifying Mexican Mammals is the only complete identification guide to Mexico’s mammalian fauna. Fully updated and revised, this bestselling book follows a bilingual arrangement, with identical information presented in Spanish and English on facing pages. The dichotomous presentation is both easy to follow and flawlessly compiled, including updated and expanded material that surpasses any previously available resource. Hundreds of diagnostic images are dispersed throughout the book, many showing minute details that differentiate one species from another, and introductory materials carefully explain the use of diagnostic features. The heart of the book, though, is the keys themselves, which cover every taxa―from artiodactyls and carnivores to primates and rodents―while allowing confident identification at the species level for both field and museum use.
     The book closes with appendices that cover preparation of specimens, a glossary, and a bibliography. Anyone with an interest in the mammalian fauna of Mexico, or mammals in general, will find this one-of-a-kind book an indispensable reference to Mexico’s rich diversity of wildlife.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a SERIOUS interest in Mexican mammals.