The natural world is filled with diverse—not to mention quirky and odd—animal behaviors. Consider the male praying mantis that continues to mate after being beheaded; the insects, insects, and birds that offer gifts of food in return for sex; the male hip-pocket frog that carries his own tadpoles; the baby spiders that dine on their mother; or the starfish that sheds an arm or two to escape a predator's grasp. In Ain’t Love Grand, Marty Crump—a tropical field biologist well known for her work with the reproductive behavior of amphibians—examines the bizarre conduct of animals as they mate, parent, feed, defend themselves, and communicate. More importantly, Crump points out that diverse and unrelated animals often share seemingly erratic behaviors—evidence, Crump argues, that these natural histories, though outwardly weird, are actually successful ways of living.
Frogs are worshipped for bringing nourishing rains, but blamed for devastating floods. Turtles are admired for their wisdom and longevity, but ridiculed for their sluggish and cowardly behavior. Snakes are respected for their ability to heal and restore life, but despised as symbols of evil. Lizards are revered as beneficent guardian spirits, but feared as the Devil himself.
In this ode to toads and snakes, newts and tuatara, crocodiles and tortoises, herpetologist and science writer Marty Crump explores folklore across the world and throughout time. From creation myths to trickster tales; from associations with fertility and rebirth to fire and rain; and from the use of herps in folk medicines and magic, as food, pets, and gods, to their roles in literature, visual art, music, and dance, Crump reveals both our love and hatred of amphibians and reptiles—and their perceived power. In a world where we keep home terrariums at the same time that we battle invasive cane toads, and where public attitudes often dictate that the cute and cuddly receive conservation priority over the slimy and venomous, she shows how our complex and conflicting perceptions threaten the conservation of these ecologically vital animals.
Sumptuously illustrated, Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog, Adder’s Fork and Lizard’s Leg is a beautiful and enthralling brew of natural history and folklore, sobering science and humor, that leaves us with one irrefutable lesson: love herps. Warts, scales, and all.
The natural world is filled with diverse—not to mention quirky and odd—animal behaviors. Consider the male praying mantis that continues to mate after being beheaded; the spiders, insects, and birds that offer gifts of food in return for sex; the male hip-pocket frog that carries his own tadpoles; the baby spiders that dine on their mother; the beetle that craves excrement; or the starfish that sheds an arm or two to escape a predator's grasp.
Headless Males Make Great Lovers and Other Unusual Natural Histories celebrates the extraordinary world of animals with essays on curious creatures and their amazing behaviors. In five thematic chapters, Marty Crump—a tropical field biologist well known for her work with the reproductive behavior of amphibians—examines the bizarre conduct of animals as they mate, parent, feed, defend themselves, and communicate. Crump's enthusiasm for the unusual behaviors she describes-from sex change and free love in sponges to aphrodisiac concoctions in bats-is visible on every page, thanks to her skilled storytelling, which makes even sea slugs, dung beetles, ticks, and tapeworms fascinating and appealing. Steeped in biology, Headless Males Make Great Lovers points out that diverse and unrelated animals often share seemingly bizarre behaviors—evidence, Crump argues, that these natural histories, though outwardly weird, are successful ways of living.
Illustrated throughout, and filled with vignettes of personal and scientific interest, Headless Males Make Great Lovers will enchant the general reader with its tales of blood-squirting horned lizards and intestine-ejecting sea cucumbers—all in the service of a greater appreciation of the diversity of the natural histories of animals.
Marty Crump has searched for salamanders along the Amazon River; she has surveyed amphibians and reptiles in hostile Huaorani Indian territory; she has been stung by a conga ant and had run-ins with an electric eel, a boa constrictor, and a bushmaster viper. In the course of her travels she has dined, not always eagerly, on wild rat, parrot, guinea pig, and chicken foot soup. And for those among us who prefer our experiences to be vicarious and far away from biting insects, venomous snakes, and inhospitable surroundings, she has written In Search of the Golden Frog.
The book is a detailed and fascinating chronicle of Crump's adventures as a field biologist—and as a wife and mother—in South and Central America. Following Crump on her research trips through Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, we learn of amazingly diverse landscapes, equally diverse national traditions and customs, and the natural history of her subject of study, the frog. In leading us through rain forests and onto windswept coasts, Crump introduces us to such compelling creatures as female harlequin frogs, who pounce on males and pound their heads against the ground, and also sounds an alarm about the precipitous decline in amphibian populations around the globe.
Crump's perspectives as both a scientist and a mother, juggling the demands of family and professional life, make this highly readable account of fieldwork simultaneously close to home and wildly exotic. A combination of nature writing and travel writing, the richly illustrated In Search of the Golden Frog will whet travelers' appetites, affirm the experiences of seasoned field biologists, and offer the armchair naturalist vivid descriptions of amphibians and their habitats.
Vampire bats that regurgitate blood for roosting buddies. Mosquitoes that filch honeydew droplets from ants. Reptiles that enforce chastity on their lovers with copulatory plugs. Capuchin monkeys that use millipede secretions as mosquito repellent. The natural world is full of unusual relationships, and negotiation between life-forms striving to survive is evolution at its most diverse, entertaining, and awe-inspiring.
Picking up where her highly popular Headless Males Make Great Lovers left off, tropical field biologist Marty Crump takes us on another voyage of discovery into the world of unusual natural histories, this time focusing on extraordinary interactions involving animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria. Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers& Other Unusual Relationships illuminates the ceaseless give-and-take between species. Occasionally, both interacting parties benefit, like when hornbills and dwarf mongooses hunt together for food. Other times, like when mites ride in hummingbirds’ nostrils to reach their next meal of nectar, one individual benefits and the other is neither helped nor harmed. But sometimes one individual benefits at the expense of the other; you need only recall your last sinus infection to understand how that works.
Throughout, Crump brings her trademark spunk and zest to these stories of intimate exchange. She introduces readers to penguins that babysit, pseudoscorpions that ride and mate under the wings of giant harlequin beetles, and parasitic fungi that bend insects to their will. A lively companion to Crump’s earlier work, Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers& Other Unusual Relationships captures the bizarre and befuddling aspects of the behavior of animals, plants, and microbes. After this entertaining romp through the world of natural relationships, you’ll never look at an orchid the same way again.
A Year with Nature is an almanac like none you’ve ever seen: combining science and aesthetics, it is a daily affirmation of the extraordinary richness of biodiversity and our enduring beguilement by its beauty. With a text by herpetologist and natural history writer Marty Crump and a cornucopia of original illustrations by Bronwyn McIvor, this quirky quotidian reverie gazes across the globe, media, and time as it celebrates date-appropriate natural topics ranging from the founding of the National Park Service to annual strawberry, garlic, shrimp, hummingbird, and black bear festivals.
With Crump, we mark the publication of classics like Carson’s Silent Spring and White’s Charlotte’s Web, and even the musical premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. We note the discovery of the structure of DNA and the mountain gorilla, the rise of citizen science projects, and the work of people who’ve shaped how we view and protect nature—from Aristotle to E. O. Wilson. Some days feature US celebrations, like National Poinsettia Day and National Cat Day; others highlight country-specific celebrations, like Australia’s Wombat Day and Thailand’s Monkey Buffet Festival, during which thousands of macaques feast on an ornately arranged spread of fruits and vegetables. Crump also highlights celebrations that span borders, from World Wildlife Conservation Day to International Mountain Day and global festivities for snakes, sea turtles, and chocolate. Interweaving fascinating facts on everything from jellyfish bodies to monthly birth flowers with folkloric entries featuring the Loch Ness Monster, unicorns, and ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology, the almanac is as exhaustive as it is enchanting.
A Year with Nature celebrates the wonder and beauty of our natural world as we have expressed it in visual arts, music, literature, science, natural history, and everyday experience. But more than this, the almanac’s vignettes encourage us to contemplate how we can help ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the landscapes and rich biodiversity we so deeply cherish.