Saturday, March 17, 2018

New Title

1) Prothero, Donald R.. Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters (Second Edition). 2017. Columbia University Press. Hardbound: 427 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Donald R. Prothero’s Evolution is an entertaining and rigorous history of the transitional forms and series found in the fossil record. Its engaging narrative of scientific discovery and well-grounded analysis has led to the book’s widespread adoption in courses that teach the nature and value of fossil evidence for evolution. Evolution tackles systematics and cladistics, rock dating, neo-Darwinism, and macroevolution. It includes extensive coverage of the primordial soup, invertebrate transitions, the development of the backbone, the reign of the dinosaurs, and the transformation from early hominid to modern human. The book also details the many alleged “missing links” in the fossil record, including some of the most recent discoveries that flesh out the fossil timeline and the evolutionary process.
     In this second edition, Prothero describes new transitional fossils from various periods, vividly depicting such bizarre creatures as the Odontochelys, or the “turtle on the half shell”; fossil snakes with legs; and the “Frogamander,” a new example of amphibian transition. Prothero’s discussion of intelligent design arguments includes more historical examples and careful examination of the “experiments” and observations that are exploited by creationists seeking to undermine sound science education. With new perspectives, Prothero reframes creationism as a case study in denialism and pseudoscience rather than a field with its own intellectual dynamism. The first edition was hailed as an exemplary exploration of the fossil evidence for evolution, and this second edition will be welcome in the libraries of scholars, teachers, and general readers who stand up for sound science in this post-truth era.
RECOMMENDATION: If you liked the first edition, you will want the second edition!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

New Title

1) Brewer, David. Birds New to Science: Fifty Years of Avian Discoveries. 2018. Helm. Hardbound: 416 pages. Price: $60.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Amazing as it might sound, ornithologists are still discovering, on average, five or six bird species that are completely new to science each year. What's more, these aren't all just obscure brown birds on tiny islands-- witness the bizarre Bare-faced Bulbul from Laos (2009), spectacular Araripe Manakin from Brazil (1998), or gaudy Bugun Liocichla from north-east India (2006).
     This book documents all of these remarkable discoveries made since 1960, from Barau's Petrel onwards, covering around 300 species. It fills an important gap in the ornithological literature.
     Written in an engaging style, Birds New to Science provides a rich reference to an era of adventure in ornithology. Each species account discusses the story of the discovery, with photographs of the birds where available, along with a discussion of what is known about the species' biology, habitat, and distribution, with a strong conservation message--most of the species in the book are either vulnerable or endangered.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in ornithological history and/or avian conservation.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

New Title

1) Knight, Charles R.. Life Through the Ages, A Commemorative Edition. 2017 (2001). Indiana University Press. Paperback: 67 pages. Price: $18.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: First published in 1946, Charles R. Knight’s Life through the Ages was for many a beloved first look at the strange animals of the prehistoric past. For much of the 20th century, Knight’s reconstructions were the key resource for popular images of ancient life. His paintings and drawings were displayed as part of museum exhibits, notably at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Field Museum in Chicago, were used as illustrations in numerous books and magazine articles, and even influenced movie portrayals of dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts. Knight’s work was highly regarded both for its artistic skill and for its scientific accuracy, closely based as it was on the knowledge of its time. Although new discoveries and ongoing research have changed the view of many of the animals depicted by Knight, his work remains valuable and is still treasured by new generations of scientists and paleoartists.
RECOMMENDATION: For fans of Charles R. Knight’s work.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

New Title

1) Walker, James S.. Common Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Pacific Coast: A Life Size Field Guide. 2017. Cave Art Press. Paperback: 175 pages. Price: $16.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Common Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Pacific Coast is a field guide to the 60 most common West Coast species of these beautiful and fascinating insects. This book contains a full color, two-page spread on each of the described species. Each spread includes a life-size photo, field identification marks, a range map, flight season chart, and a discussion of habitat and behavior. In addition to the individual spreads, the book contains a description of dragonfly and damselfly anatomy, reproduction, ecology, and tips for observation and photography. Dr. Walker also discusses and illustrates the newly described Splash-Dunk / Spin-Dry behavior, in which dragonflies plunge into a lake or pond to clean themselves, and then dry off by spinning head-over-heels at 1,000 rpm--the fastest known rotational motion of any animal. An easy-to-use guide for the recreational viewer, this book also provides enough information to satisfy an advanced observer.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the Odonata of the region.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

New Titles

1) Glassberg, Jeffrey. A Swift Guide to Butterflies of Mexico and Central America (Second Edition). 2017. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 304 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This is a revised second edition of a groundbreaking photographic field guide to the butterflies of Mexico and Central America. Written by Jeffrey Glassberg, the pioneering authority on the field identification of butterflies, the guide covers more than 2,000 species and features over 3,700 large, gorgeous color photographs, the very best images available, accompanied by authoritative facing-page text. This second edition includes more species, more than 1,500 new photos, and updated text, maps, and species names. And range maps, field marks, and host plants are included for all Mexican butterflies. The result is an ideal field guide that will enable you to identify almost every butterfly you see.
  • A revised second edition of a groundbreaking guide, featuring more species, more than 1,500 new photos, and updated text, maps, and species names
  • The first complete guide to Mexican butterflies
  • Covers almost all of Mexico's more than 1,700 species, plus many Central American species, including more than two-thirds of those in Costa Rica
  • Written by the pioneering authority on the field identification of butterflies
  • Beautifully illustrated with more than 3800 color photographs that show almost all known Mexican species and about 90% of Costa Rican and Panamanian species
  • Range maps, field marks, and host plants for all Mexican species
  • Authoritative facing-page text
  • An invaluable tool for field identification
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the butterflies of the region.

2) van der Sleen, Peter and James S. Albert (editors). Field Guide to the Fishes of the Amazon, Orinoco, and Guianas. 2018. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 464 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Amazon and Orinoco basins in northern South America are home to the highest concentration of freshwater fish species on earth, with more than 3,000 species allotted to 564 genera. Amazonian fishes include piranhas, electric eels, freshwater stingrays, a myriad of beautiful small-bodied tetras and catfishes, and the largest scaled freshwater fish in the world, the pirarucu. Field Guide to the Fishes of the Amazon, Orinoco, and Guianas provides descriptions and identification keys for all the known genera of fishes that inhabit Greater Amazonia, a vast and still mostly remote region of tropical rainforests, seasonally flooded savannas, and meandering lowland rivers.
     The guide’s contributors include more than fifty expert scientists. They summarize the current state of knowledge on the taxonomy, species richness, and ecology of these fish groups, and provide references to relevant literature for species-level identifications. This richly illustrated guide contains 700 detailed drawings, 190 color photos, and 500 distribution maps, which cover all genera. An extensive and illustrated glossary helps readers with the identification keys.
     The first complete overview of the fish diversity in the Amazon, Orinoco, and Guianas, this comprehensive guide is essential for anyone interested in the freshwater life inhabiting this part of the world.
  • First complete overview of the fish diversity in the Amazon and Orinoco basins
  • Contributors include more than fifty experts
  • Identification keys and distribution maps for all genera
  • 190 stunning color photos
  • 700 detailed line drawings
  • Extensive and illustrated glossary
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in the freshwater fishes of the region.

New Title

1) Hsiao, Mu-Chi. A Field Guide to the Birds of Taiwan. 2017. Wild Bird Society Of Taipei. Paperback: 416 pages. Price: about $56 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Language: English, with English, Chinese and scientific nomenclature.
     Covering over 670 species found in Taiwan and surrounding islets including 27 endemic species and 56 endemic subspecies, this new English edition of A Field Guide to the Birds of Taiwan features stunning artwork detailing seasonal, age, sexual, and subspecies differences in approximately 190 annotated colour plates, updated distribution maps, and concise but informative text dealing not only with identification but aspects of biology such as habitat, and voice. This new guide should be a valuable addition to any birder's library.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding Taiwan!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

New Title

1) Eriksen, Jens and Richard Porter. Birds of Oman (Helm Field Guides). 2017. Helm. Paperback: 272 pages. Price: $45.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Oman is a truly amazing place. In terms of avifauna it lies at the crossroads between Asian and African species--Arabian desert species to the north, and a host of Afrotropical species occurring in the monsoon-swept south that don't occur anywhere else in the Western Palaearctic.
     With much of the Middle East now effectively off-limits to birders, people are increasingly turning to Oman and its avian riches. And what riches they are--highlights include the incredible Omani Owl, discovered just a couple of years ago in the Al Hajar mountains, a suite of regionally scarce wheatears, exotic pigeons, shearwaters and storm-petrels that can be seen from the beach, a host of wintering eagles, plus impressive residents such as Verreaux's, the only accessible sites for Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak, and Yemen Serin; the list goes on and on.
     This book is the perfect guide to this wonderful country's birdlife. Written by the world's leading expert on Middle Eastern birds, Richard Porter, along with Oman bird specialist Jens Eriksen, with color plates opposite concise species text and accurate maps, it is indispensable for any naturalist visiting this jewel of the Arabian peninsula.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those birding Oman!