In the late eighteenth century, the British took greater interest than ever before in observing and recording all aspects of the natural world. Travelers and colonists returning from far-flung lands provided dazzling accounts of such exotic creatures as elephants, baboons, and kangaroos. The engraver Thomas Bewick (1753–1828) harnessed this newfound interest by assembling the most comprehensive illustrated guide to nature of his day.
A General History of Quadrupeds, first published in 1790, showcases Bewick’s groundbreaking engraving techniques that allowed text and images to be published on the same page. From anteaters to zebras, armadillos to wolverines, this delightful volume features engravings of over four hundred animals alongside descriptions of their characteristics as scientifically understood at the time. Quadrupeds reaffirms Bewick’s place in history as an incomparable illustrator, one whose influence on natural history and book printing still endures today.
In this comprehensive account of olfactory communication and territorial behavior in the Mongolian gerbil, Del Thiessen and PaulineYahr provide the first detailed study of the neurological and physiological mechanisms that control these basic functions. In addition to explaining the links between hormones, genes, olfactory cues, and territorial acts, they also offer a more general picture of gerbil behavior, as well as a brief look at other mammalian species that communicate social status by way of olfactory messages. Territorial behavior, as defined by the authors, includes all acts that are restricted to a particular area and are crucial for successful reproduction. In the Mongolian gerbil, and probably in other mammals as well, territoriality is controlled by sex hormones acting on specific areas of the central nervous system. Hormones from the gonads apparently act in the brain by altering the genetic apparatus controlling biochemicals used in neural communication. Without these hormones, the animal is socially inert and unable to transmit genes to the next generation. The authors conclude from the results of over ten years of investigation that the most complex social interactions depend on the integrity of the hormone system and its constant tuning by olfactory stimuli. The book incorporates a review of all previously known studies of gerbil behavior and representative data for many other scent-marking species. A stereotaxic brain atlas for the gerbil is a feature that will be especially helpful to other researchers. The book's eclectic nature should make it valuable to anyone concerned with territorial behavior, hormones and behavior, or brain processes, as well as to those who are specifically interested in the Mongolian gerbil.
The Giant Pandas of Wolong
George B. Schaller, Hu Jinchu, Pan Wenshi, and Zhu Jing University of Chicago Press, 1985 Library of Congress QL737.C214G53 1985 | Dewey Decimal 599.74443
The giant panda is threatened with extinction. Only about a thousand survive in the wild in China, about half of them protected in reserves. In an effort to save this remarkable species, the government of China and the World Wildlife Fund began cooperative research in 1980. The Giant Pandas of Wolong is not only the first report of this joint venture but also the first detailed account of the panda's natural history. It describes the environment, distribution, life cycle, and daily and seasonal activities of pandas in the wild.
Although giant pandas have few natural enemies, the periodic die-off of bamboo, their main food, threatens their survival. In order to understand the panda's vital link to bamboo, the research team has explored many aspects of the animal's life, collecting information on both wild and captive pandas. Though a herbivore, the panda retains the simple digestive tract of a carnivore. Unable to digest cellulose in plants, it receives relatively little nutrition from the bamboo it eats. As a result, it must eat many kilograms of bamboo each day, foraging for fourteen hours or more throughout a day and night.
Known to the Chinese for several thousand years as daxiongmao, "large bear-cat," the giant panda has defied easy classification. The authors review anatomical, biochemical, behavioral, and paleontological evidence, concluding that the animal is neither bear nor raccoon but belongs in a separate family, perhaps with the small red panda.
The giant panda has captured the imagination of the public more than any other animal. By presenting their groundbreaking and crucial research to the public, the authors of The Giant Pandas of Wolong hope to spur further research and action that will help this precious animal survive.
From “Three Billy Goats Gruff” to The Men Who Stare at Goats, this inimitable ruminant has long played a role in our literature and popular culture. And yet, our relationship with the “poor man’s cow” is oddly ambivalent. In the beautifully illustrated Goat, Joy Hinson explores the reason behind this unease while presenting readers with the animal’s fascinating natural history and its effect on myth, medicine, and culture.
Hinson traces the history of goats from their evolution millions of years ago through their domestication and role in the modern world. She delves into our interaction with endangered wild goat species and the familiar farmyard goat, and she reveals the harm done by humans in indiscriminately importing tamed goats, leading to huge feral populations in Australia and on the Galapagos Islands. Hinson also considers the place of goat products in culinary and medical traditions, from the pouring of goat urine into the ear as a cure for neck pain to the belief that a goat’s bezoar stone can be used as an antidote for poison. From Goat Festivals in the United States to the Christmas Goat in Sweden, Goat takes readers on an exciting ride through this frequently neglected animal’s history, life, and role in today’s world.
Dawn Prince-Hughes is an extraordinary researcher. She does not experiment or measure but instead sits on a wooden bench for hours each day, watching captive gorillas through the enclosure where other visitors average five-second stops. Her patience is rewarded with astounding observations—she watches gorillas make and use tools, bury a dead crow, give birth, and comfort and care for each other.
In Gorillas among Us, Prince-Hughes has compressed years of gorilla observation into a composite diary chronicling the days of one gorilla family. She creates a blended portrait of both peoples—gorilla and human. The entries capture significant observations, which often prompt brief discussions of gorillas’ captivity, diet, communication, aesthetic preferences, social behavior, and play. Several chapters end with thought-provoking meditations on human values. The final section, “More about Gorillas,” provides a concise, accessible introduction to gorilla natural history.
This book will delight and move anyone with an interest in animals, and it also makes a significant contribution to the scarce literature on captive gorillas. Prince-Hughes's observations of tool use by gorillas will interest scientists, and even a casual reader will come away with a new sense of the power of observation. The author hopes to change the way we look at animals in the wild and in captivity, and laments that zoo visitors pause so briefly in front of the gorilla enclosure, rushing on with their assumptions unchanged, without really seeing the gorillas.
By turns opinionated and descriptive, quirky and authoritative, Prince-Hughes draws us into the family life of captive gorillas and into a consideration of our own culture. Readers will learn something new about gorillas and themselves on every page of this poignant story. The book testifies to the potential for interspecies compassion and the love that one person can find in a family of gorillas.
Carnivores such as pumas, jaguars, and ocelots have roamed the neotropical forests of Central America for millennia. Enshrined in the myths of the ancient Maya, they still inspire awe in the region’s current inhabitants, as well as in the ecotourists and researchers who come to experience Central America’s diverse and increasingly endangered natural environment. This book is one of the first field guides dedicated to the carnivores of Central America. It describes the four indigenous families—wild cats, raccoons and their relatives, skunks and their relatives, and wild canids—and their individual species that live in the region. The authors introduce each species by recounting a first-person encounter with it, followed by concise explanations of its taxonomy, scientific name, English and Spanish common names, habitat, natural history, and conservation status. Range maps show the animal’s past and current distribution, while Claudia Nocke’s black-and-white drawings portray it visually. The concluding chapter looks to the carnivores’ future, including threats posed by habitat destruction and other human activities, and describes some current conservation programs. Designed for citizens of and visitors to Central America, as well as specialists, this book offers an excellent introduction to a group of fascinating, threatened, and still imperfectly understood animals.
From the tiny shrew to the black bear, Pennsylvania’s hills and valleys are teeming with sixty-three species of wild mammals. Many of these animals are rarely seen except when pursued by an interested biologist, mammologist, or nature photographer. Now, with the publication of this book, student, scholar, and nature lover alike will have a ready reference to distinguish between a deer mouse and a white-footed mouse, to identify raccoon tracks, and to learn about Pennsylvania’s other inhabitants.
An attractive backpack-size volume, written in lively prose, the Guide to the Mammals of Pennsylvania opens with a short introduction to Pennsylvania’s environment and the characteristics defining a mammal. The bulk of the book consists of species accounts of the mammals grouped into families and orders. Each account includes a short list of data, a Pennsylvania range map, a North American range map, and a narrative of the physical, ecological, and behavioral characteristics of the species.
Exciting photographs of each of the species in its natural habitat, 17 in color, and drawings of animal tracks are especially useful for identification, and a glossary and a bibliography provide definitions and references for the serious reader. Naturalists, whether amateur or professional, will find the book useful in the field; it will be an indispensable tool in the classroom.