From one of the world's leading natural scientists and the acclaimed author of Trilobite , Life: A Natural History of Four Billion Years of Life on Earth and Dry Storeroom No. 1 comes a fascinating chronicle of life's history told not through the fossil record but through the stories of organisms that have survived, almost unchanged, throughout time. Evolution, it seems, has not completely obliterated its tracks as more advanced organisms have evolved; the history of life on earth is far older--and odder--than many of us realize.Scattered across the globe, these remarkable plants and animals continue to mark seminal events in geological time. From a moonlit beach in Delaware, where the hardy horseshoe crab shuffles its way to a frenzy of mass mating just as it did 450 million years ago, to the dense rainforests of New Zealand, where the elusive, unprepossessing velvet worm has burrowed deep into rotting timber since before the breakup of the ancient supercontinent, to a stretch of Australian coastline with stromatolite formations that bear witness to the Precambrian dawn, the existence of these survivors offers us a tantalizing glimpse of pivotal points in evolutionary history. These are not "living fossils" but rather a handful of tenacious creatures of days long gone. Written in buoyant, sparkling prose, Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms is a marvelously captivating exploration of the world's old-timers combining the very best of science writing with an explorer's sense of adventure and wonder.
Part of John Muir's appeal to modern readers is that he not only explored the American West and wrote about its beauties but also fought for their preservation. His successes dot the landscape and are evident in all the natural features that bear his name: forests, lakes, trails, and glaciers. Here collected are some of Muir's finest wilderness essays, ranging in subject matter from Alaska to Yellowstone, from Oregon to the High Sierra.
This book is part of a series that celebrates the tradition of literary naturalists--writers who embrace the natural world as the setting for some of our most euphoric and serious experiences. These books map the intimate connections between the human and the natural world. Literary naturalists transcend political boundaries, social concerns, and historical milieus; they speak for what Henry Beston called the "other nations" of the planet. Their message acquires more weight and urgency as wild places become increasingly scarce.
An illustrated guide to the natural habitats and rich diversity of wildlife in the greater Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area
Though the Twin Cities and environs have proven a fine habitat for one particular species, the three million humans who call the area home share these 3,000 square miles with myriad animals and plants, all in a mosaic of various ecosystems. While most of the region's wildlife has lost its original habitat to agriculture and urban development, a significant patchwork of native and restored habitat remains--prairies, woods, and wetlands, along with pockets in the parks and open spaces throughout the cities and suburbs. This easy-to-use guide gives novice and long-time naturalists alike the tools to find and explore these natural places in the metropolitan Twin Cities, some within the city limits and all within an hour's drive of downtown Minneapolis.
John J. Moriarty is a congenial expert on the remarkable diversity of plants and animals in the region's habitats, from prairies and savannas to woods and wetlands such as swamps and marshes, to fens and bogs, lakes and rivers, and urban and suburban spots. Featuring Siah L. St. Clair's remarkable photographs, maps, and commentary on natural history, this field guide invites readers to investigate the Twin Cities' wildlife--familiar and obscure, sun-loving or nocturnal, shy or easily observed. Here are snapping turtles, otters, and Cooper's hawks, the wild lupines, white water lilies, and sprawling white oaks, among hundreds of species found in the wild, the park, or even the backyard. Including notes on invasive species and a list of references and organizations, this book is a perfect companion and an unparalleled resource for anyone interested in discovering the rich natural world of the Twin Cities.
Hailed by The New York Times as "a passionately felt, deeply poetic book," the moving autobiographical work of Edward Abbey, considered the Thoreau of the American West, and his passion for the southwestern wilderness.Desert Solitaire is a collection of vignettes about life in the wilderness and the nature of the desert itself by park ranger and conservationist, Edward Abbey. The book details the unique adventures and conflicts the author faces, from dealing with the damage caused by development of the land or excessive tourism, to discovering a dead body. However Desert Solitaire is not just a collection of one man's stories, the book is also a philosophical memoir, full of Abbey's reflections on the desert as a paradox, at once beautiful and liberating, but also isolating and cruel. Often compared to Thoreau's Walden, Desert Solitaire is a powerful discussion of life's mysteries set against the stirring backdrop of the American southwestern wilderness.
In this sequel to The Scientist as Rebel (2006), Freeman Dyson--whom The Times of London calls "one of the world's most original minds"--celebrates openness to unconventional ideas and "the spirit of joyful dreaming" in which he believes that science should be pursued. Throughout these essays, which range from the creation of the Royal Society in the seventeenth century to the scientific inquiries of the Romantic generation to recent books by Daniel Kahneman and Malcolm Gladwell, he seeks to "break down the barriers that separate science from other sources of human wisdom."Dyson discusses twentieth-century giants of physics such as Richard Feynman, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Paul Dirac, and Steven Weinberg, many of whom he knew personally, as well as Winston Churchill's pursuit of nuclear weapons for Britain and Wernher von Braun's pursuit of rockets for space travel. And he takes a provocative, often politically incorrect approach to some of today's most controversial scientific issues: global warming, the current calculations of which he thinks are probably wrong; the future of biotechnology, which he expects to dominate our lives in the next half-century as the tools to design new living creatures become available to everyone; and the flood of information in the digital age. Dyson offers fresh perspectives on the history, the philosophy, and the practice of scientific inquiry--and even on the blunders, the wild guesses and wrong theories that are also part of our struggle to understand the wonders of the natural world.
Fierce, timely, and unsettling essays from an important and beloved writer and conservationistTerry Tempest Williams's fierce, spirited, and magnificent essays are a howl in the desert. She sizes up the continuing assaults on America's public lands and the erosion of our commitment to the open space of democracy. She asks: How do we find the strength to not look away from all that is breaking our hearts? We know the elements of erosion: wind, water, and time. They have shaped the spectacular physical landscape of our nation. Here, Williams bravely and brilliantly explores the many forms of erosion we face: of democracy, science, compassion, and trust. She examines the dire cultural and environmental implications of the gutting of Bear Ears National Monument--sacred lands to Native Peoples of the American Southwest; of the undermining of the Endangered Species Act; of the relentless press by the fossil fuel industry that has led to a panorama in which oil rigs light up the horizon. And she testifies that the climate crisis is not an abstraction, offering as evidence the drought outside her door and, at times, within herself. These essays are Williams's call to action, blazing a way forward through difficult and dispiriting times. We will find new territory--emotional, geographical, communal. The erosion of desert lands exposes the truth of change. What has been weathered, worn, and whittled away is as powerful as what remains. Our undoing is also our becoming. Erosion is a book for this moment, political and spiritual at once, written by one of our greatest naturalists, essayists, and defenders of the environment. She reminds us that beauty is its own form of resistance, and that water can crack stone.
Brilliant, meditative, and full of surprises, wisdom, and wonder.--Ann Lamott, author of Imperfect Birds
A Kansas City Star Best Book of the Year
I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won't look at them until after I'm gone. This is what Terry Tempest Williams's mother, the matriarch of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah, told her a week before she died. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as it was to discover that the three shelves of journals were all blank. In fifty-four short chapters, Williams recounts memories of her mother, ponders her own faith, and contemplates the notion of absence and presence art and in our world. When Women Were Birds is a carefully crafted kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question: What does it mean to have a voice?
In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic.