Monday, April 18, 2011
New and Recent Titles
1) Beccaloni, Jan. Arachnids. 2009. University of California Press. Hardbound: 320 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: With around 11 distinctive lineages and over 38,000 species of spiders alone, arachnids are an amazingly diverse group of invertebrates—and with names like the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider, the Tailless Whip Spider, and the Harvestman, they can be both spectacular and captivating. Most books about arachnids focus on spiders, neglecting scorpions, ticks, mites, wind spiders, and other fascinating yet poorly understood groups. This adventurous volume summarizes all existing knowledge about each major type of arachnid, revealing their secrets through detailed species accounts, brilliant photographs, and a compelling cast of eight-legged characters. It examines the anatomy, habitat, behavior and distribution of each lineage, from the garden spider to the death stalker scorpion and even a species of mite that lives inside a monkey's lungs. Drawing on the vast resources at London's Natural History Museum, Arachnids spins a sensational tale, debunking common myths and delving deep into the lives of these bizarre and beautiful creatures.
RECOMMENDATION: A detailed yet very readable account on these arthropods!
2) Grayson, Donald K.. The Great Basin: A Natural Prehistory (revised and expanded edition). 2011. University of California Press. Hardbound: 418 pages. Price: $75.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: Covering a large swath of the American West, the Great Basin, centered in Nevada and including parts of California, Utah, and Oregon, is named for the unusual fact that none of its rivers or streams flow into the sea. This fascinating illustrated journey through deep time is the definitive environmental and human history of this beautiful and little traveled region, home to Death Valley, the Great Salt Lake, Lake Tahoe, and the Bonneville Salt Flats. Donald K. Grayson synthesizes what we now know about the past 25,000 years in the Great Basin—its climate, lakes, glaciers, plants, animals, and peoples—based on information gleaned from the region’s exquisite natural archives in such repositories as lake cores, packrat middens, tree rings, and archaeological sites. A perfect guide for students, scholars, travelers, and general readers alike, the book weaves together history, archaeology, botany, geology, biogeography, and other disciplines into one compelling panorama across a truly unique American landscape.
RECOMMENDATION: A detailed textbook-like title that will appeal mainly to Pleistocene and Holocene paleontologists and archaeologists that are interested in the region.