Tuesday, October 31, 2017
1) Davidson, Jane P.. Patrons of Paleontology: How Government Support Shaped a Science. 2017. Indiana University Press. Hardbound: 232 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In the 19th and early 20th centuries, North American and European governments generously funded the discoveries of such famous paleontologists and geologists as Henry de la Beche, William Buckland, Richard Owen, Thomas Hawkins, Edward Drinker Cope, O. C. Marsh, and Charles W. Gilmore. In Patrons of Paleontology, Jane Davidson explores the motivation behind this rush to fund exploration, arguing that eagerness to discover strategic resources like coal deposits was further fueled by patrons who had a genuine passion for paleontology and the fascinating creatures that were being unearthed. These early decades of government support shaped the way the discipline grew, creating practices and enabling discoveries that continue to affect paleontology today.
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in paleontological history.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
1) Strycker, Noah. Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 326 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Traveling to 41 countries in 2015 with a backpack and binoculars, Noah Strycker became the first person to see more than half the world’s 10,000 species of birds in one year.
In 2015, Noah Strycker set himself a lofty goal: to become the first person to see half the world’s birds in one year. For 365 days, with a backpack, binoculars, and a series of one-way tickets, he traveled across forty-one countries and all seven continents, eventually spotting 6,042 species—by far the biggest birding year on record.
This is no travelogue or glorified checklist. Noah ventures deep into a world of blood-sucking leeches, chronic sleep deprivation, airline snafus, breakdowns, mudslides, floods, war zones, ecologic devastation, conservation triumphs, common and iconic species, and scores of passionate bird lovers around the globe. By pursuing the freest creatures on the planet, Noah gains a unique perspective on the world they share with us—and offers a hopeful message that even as many birds face an uncertain future, more people than ever are working to protect them.
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone that enjoys reading about birding adventures!
Saturday, October 21, 2017
1) Ridpath, Ian and Wil Tirion. Stars and Planets: The Most Complete Guide to the Stars, Planets, Galaxies, and Solar System (Princeton Field Guides). 2017. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 400 pages. Price: $22.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In this newly updated and expanded edition of their classic work, Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion illuminate the night sky as never before, providing novice stargazers and professional astronomers alike with the most informative, user-friendly, comprehensive, and authoritative celestial field guide available. The product of a thirty-year collaboration between one of the world’s leading astronomy writers and the world’s foremost celestial mapmaker, Stars and Planets features superb color sky charts, diagrams, or photographs on almost every page; clear and engaging writing; a spacious and attractive design; and a compact size. This updated edition features the latest information on stars, a revised section on planets that incorporates recent research on exoplanets, and some revised charts and new photographs. Simply put, Stars and Planets is indispensable. Don’t leave home―at night―without it.
- Detailed charts covering all 88 constellations in the Northern and Southern hemispheres
- Data and notes on all bright stars and other objects of interest
- Detailed Moon maps and descriptions of the main lunar features
- Tips on choosing and using binoculars and telescopes, to suit any budget
- The only guide to provide annual planetary data as a downloadable online resource
- Updates include the latest data on stars and exoplanets and some revised charts and new photos
Sunday, October 15, 2017
1) Crossley, Richard, Paul Baicich, and Jessie Barry. The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl. 2017. Crossley Books. Flexibound: 510 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds, published in 2011, revolutionized birding and books by providing the first real-life approach to ID. The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl, the fourth of these user-friendly guides, is for both hunters and birders. Unlike other guides, which provide isolated individual photographs or paint illustrations, this book features large, lifelike scenes that are 'painted in pixels.' Nearly 300 pages of waterfowl scenes - showing waterfowl in a wide range of views - near and far, from different angles, in various plumages and behaviors, including flight, and in the habitat in which they live. These beautiful compositions show how a bird's appearance changes with distance, and give equal emphasis to characteristics experts use to identify birds: size, structure and shape, behavior, probability, and color. This is the first book to convey all of these features visually - in a single image - and to reinforce them with accurate text. Each scene provides a wealth of detailed visual information that invites and rewards careful study. By making identification easier, more accurate, and more fun than ever before, The Crossley ID Guides redefine how readers look at nature. Essential for anyone interested in waterfowl, it also promises to make new birders of many people who have despaired of using traditional guides. This waterfowl guide also carries a strong underlying conservation message. If all the readers of this book come together as one, we can better protect the things we love.
RECOMMENDATION: The two features I like most about this book are the female/eclipse plumage plates (usually labeled Summer/Fall in the book) and the duck upperwing plates. If you have the other Crossley guides, you'll want this one!
Thursday, October 12, 2017
1) Gorman, Gerard. Woodpecker (Animal Series). 2017. Reaktion Books. Paperback: 180 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Woodpeckers are among the most remarkable birds in the avian world, having evolved a unique anatomy that enables them to peck and bore into solid timber both to find food and to create nesting cavities. The birds are key indicators of forest health and perform an important ecological role, providing holes that many other animals use. Woodpeckers have been considered symbols of fertility, security, strength, power, prophecy, magic, rhythm, medicine, and carpentry, and have been esteemed across cultures as the guardians of woodlands, tree surgeons, fire-bringers, weather forecasters, and boat-builders.
In this charming volume, avian expert Gerard Gorman delves into the natural and cultural history of woodpeckers, exploring their origins and habitats and the ways they have fascinated humankind throughout history. Gorman finds woodpeckers everywhere—from ancient Babylon, Greece, and Rome, to the jungles of Amazonia and Borneo, to our modern-day Woody Woodpecker cartoon. Richly illustrated with images from both nature and culture, Woodpecker will appeal to everyone who is interested in these extraordinary birds.
RECOMMENDATION: If you like the author's other woodpecker books, you should like this one! Other recent titles in the series include: Llama, Wild Boar, Lizard, and Hippopotamus.
Sunday, October 8, 2017
1) Everhart, Michael J.. Oceans of Kansas, Second Edition: A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea (Life of the Past). 2017. Indiana University Press. Hardbound: 427 pages. Price: $50.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Revised, updated, and expanded with the latest interpretations and fossil discoveries, the second edition of Oceans of Kansas adds new twists to the fascinating story of the vast inland sea that engulfed central North America during the Age of Dinosaurs. Giant sharks, marine reptiles called mosasaurs, pteranodons, and birds with teeth all flourished in and around these shallow waters. Their abundant and well-preserved remains were sources of great excitement in the scientific community when first discovered in the 1860s and continue to yield exciting discoveries 150 years later. Michael J. Everhart vividly captures the history of these startling finds over the decades and re-creates in unforgettable detail these animals from our distant past and the world in which they lived―above, within, and on the shores of America’s ancient inland sea.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in Cretaceous paleontology.