Natural History
Featured Items
City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness
City Creatures
Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness
Hardcover      ISBN: 022619289x

We usually think of cities as the domain of humans--but we are just one of thousands of species that call the urban landscape home. Chicago residents knowingly move among familiar creatures like squirrels, pigeons, and dogs, but might be surprised to learn about all the leafhoppers and water bears, black-crowned night herons and bison, beavers and massasauga rattlesnakes that are living alongside them. City Creatures introduces readers to an astonishing diversity of urban wildlife with a unique and accessible mix of essays, poetry, paintings, and photographs.
The contributors bring a story-based approach to this urban safari, taking readers on birding expeditions to the Magic Hedge at Montrose Harbor on the North Side, canoe trips down the South Fork of the Chicago River (better known as Bubbly Creek), and insect-collecting forays or restoration work days in the suburban forest preserves.

The book is organized into six sections, each highlighting one type of place in which people might encounter animals in the city and suburbs. For example, schoolyard chickens and warrior wasps populate "Backyard Diversity," live giraffes loom at the zoo and taxidermy-in-progress pheasants fascinate museum-goers in "Animals on Display," and a chorus of deep-freeze frogs awaits in "Water Worlds." Although the book is rooted in Chicago's landscape, nature lovers from cities around the globe will find a wealth of urban animal encounters that will open their senses to a new world that has been there all along. Its powerful combination of insightful narratives, numinous poetry, and full-color art throughout will help readers see the city--and the creatures who share it with us--in an entirely new light.
Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis Gourds
Throwim Way Leg
Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis Gourds
Paperback      ISBN: 0802136656

Flannery travels to the unexplored regions of New Guinea in search of species that science has yet to discover or classify. He finds many -- from a community of giant cave bats that were supposedly extinct to the elusive black-and-white tree-kangaroo -- and along the way has a wealth of unforgettable adventures. Flannery scales cliffs, descends into caverns, and cheats death, both from disease and at the hands of the local cannibals, who wish to take revenge on his clan of wildlife scientists. He eventually befriends the tribespeople, who become companions in his quest and whose contributions to his research prove invaluable. In New Guinea pidgin, throwim way leg means to take the first step of a long journey. The journey in this book is a wild ride full of natural wonders and Flannery's trademark wit, a tour de force of travelogue, anthropology, and natural history.

The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas
The Living Great Lakes
Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas
Paperback      ISBN: 0312331037

Award-winning nature author Jerry Dennis reveals the splendor and beauty of North America's Great Lakes in this "masterwork"* history and memoir of the essential environmental and economical region shared by the United States and Canada.

No bodies of water compare to the Great Lakes. Superior is the largest lake on earth, and together all five contain a fifth of the world's supply of standing fresh water. Their ten thousand miles of shoreline border eight states and a Canadian province and are longer than the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. Their surface area of 95,000 square miles is greater than New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island combined. People who have never visited them--who have never seen a squall roar across Superior or the horizon stretch unbroken across Michigan or Huron--have no idea how big they are. They are so vast that they dominate much of the geography, climate, and history of North America, affecting the lives of tens of millions of people.

The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas is the definitive book about the history, nature, and science of these remarkable lakes at the heart of North America. From the geological forces that formed them and the industrial atrocities that nearly destroyed them, to the greatest environmental success stories of our time, Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario are portrayed in all their complexity.

A Michigan native, Jerry Dennis also shares his memories of a lifetime on or near the lakes, including a six-week voyage as a crewmember on a tallmasted schooner. On his travels, he collected more stories of the lakes through the eyes of biologists, fishermen, sailors, and others he befriended while hiking the area's beaches and islands.

Through storms and fog, on remote shores and city waterfronts, Dennis explores the five Great Lakes in all seasons and moods and discovers that they and their connecting waters--including the Erie Canal, the Hudson River, and the East Coast from New York to Maine--offer a surprising and bountiful view of America. The result is a meditation on nature and our place in the world, a discussion and cautionary tale about the future of water resources, and a celebration of a place that is both fragile and robust, diverse, rich in history and wildlife, often misunderstood, and worthy of our attention.

"This is history at its best and adventure richly described."--*Doug Stanton, author of In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors and 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers

Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award Winner
Winner of Best Book of 2003 by the Outdoor Writers Association of America
Galapagos: A Natural History (New)
Galapagos
A Natural History (New)
Paperback      ISBN: 1895176409

Twenty thousand copies of the first edition of Gal pagos were sold. An attractive and comprehensive guidebook, this work has been completely revised and updated by the author. The reader will find an easy-to-use text which details the natural history of the plants and animals found in the Gal pagos Islands. Management and conservation of the Gal pagos National Park is discussed, and visitor information and notes about the various tourist sites are given. An index and checklist of plants and animals with page references and a glossary of technical terms are provided.

Almost Chimpanzee: Searching for What Makes Us Human, in Rainforests, Labs, Sanctuaries, and Zoos
Almost Chimpanzee
Searching for What Makes Us Human, in Rainforests, Labs, Sanctuaries, and Zoos
Hardcover      ISBN: 0805083073

The captivating story of how a band of scientists has redrawn the genetic and behavioral lines that separate humans from our nearest cousins

In the fall of 2005, a band of researchers cracked the code of the chimpanzee genome and provided a startling new window into the differences between humans and our closest primate cousins. For the past several years, acclaimed "Science" reporter Jon Cohen has been following the DNA hunt, as well as eye-opening new studies in ape communication, human evolution, disease, diet, and more.

In "Almost Chimpanzee," Cohen invites us on a captivating scientific journey, taking us behind the scenes in cutting-edge genetics labs, rain forests in Uganda, sanctuaries in Iowa, experimental enclaves in Japan, even the Detroit Zoo. Along the way, he ferries fresh chimp sperm for a time-sensitive analysis, gets greeted by pant-hoots and chimp feces, and investigates an audacious attempt to breed a humanzee. Cohen offers a fresh and often frankly humorous insider's tour of the latest research, which promises to lead to everything from insights about the unique ways our bodies work to shedding light on stubborn human-only problems, ranging from infertility and asthma to speech disorders.

And in the end, Cohen explains why it's time to move on from Jane Goodall's plea that we focus on how the two species are alike and turns to examining why our differences matter in vital ways--for understanding humans and for increasing the chances to save the endangered chimpanzee.

The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - And Us
The Evolution of Beauty
How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - And Us
Hardcover      ISBN: 0385537212
A FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, SMITHSONIAN, AND WALL STREET JOURNAL

A major reimagining of how evolutionary forces work, revealing how mating preferences--what Darwin termed the taste for the beautiful--create the extraordinary range of ornament in the animal world.

In the great halls of science, dogma holds that Darwin's theory of natural selection explains every branch on the tree of life: which species thrive, which wither away to extinction, and what features each evolves. But can adaptation by natural selection really account for everything we see in nature?
Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum--reviving Darwin's own views--thinks not. Deep in tropical jungles around the world are birds with a dizzying array of appearances and mating displays: Club-winged Manakins who sing with their wings, Great Argus Pheasants who dazzle prospective mates with a four-foot-wide cone of feathers covered in golden 3D spheres, Red-capped Manakins who moonwalk. In thirty years of fieldwork, Prum has seen numerous display traits that seem disconnected from, if not outright contrary to, selection for individual survival. To explain this, he dusts off Darwin's long-neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons--for the mere pleasure of it--is an independent engine of evolutionary change.
Mate choice can drive ornamental traits from the constraints of adaptive evolution, allowing them to grow ever more elaborate. It also sets the stakes for sexual conflict, in which the sexual autonomy of the female evolves in response to male sexual control. Most crucially, this framework provides important insights into the evolution of human sexuality, particularly the ways in which female preferences have changed male bodies, and even maleness itself, through evolutionary time.
The Evolution of Beauty presents a unique scientific vision for how nature's splendor contributes to a more complete understanding of evolution and of ourselves.
John James Audubon
John James Audubon
Hardcover      ISBN: 0810919737

Illustrated with examples of his work both in watercolour and oil, this volume documents the life and personality of the artist John James Audubon (1785-1851). He rendered wildlife directly from observations made on his travels throughout North America and is renowned for his scientific accuracy.

Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library
Natural Histories
Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library
Paperback      ISBN: 1402791496

For the first time, Natural Histories allows readers a privileged glimpse of seldom-seen, fully illustrated scientific tomes from the American Museum of Natural History's Rare Book Collection. Forty essays from the museum's top experts in a variety of natural science disciplines, from anthropology to zoology, enhance and discuss each rare work's unique qualities and scientific contribution. Packaged with 40 extraordinary prints suitable for framing, this deluxe edition will fascinate both natural science and art lovers alike.

Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
Our Inner Ape
A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
Paperback      ISBN: 1594481962
Visit the author's Web site at www.ourinnerape.com

It's no secret that humans and apes share a host of traits, from the tribal communities we form to our irrepressible curiosity. We have a common ancestor, scientists tell us, so it's natural that we act alike. But not all of these parallels are so appealing: the chimpanzee, for example, can be as vicious and manipulative as any human.

Yet there's more to our shared primate heritage than just our violent streak. In Our Inner Ape, Frans de Waal, one of the world's great primatologists and a renowned expert on social behavior in apes, presents the provocative idea that our noblest qualities--generosity, kindness, altruism--are as much a part of our nature as are our baser instincts. After all, we share them with another primate: the lesser-known bonobo. As genetically similar to man as the chimpanzee, the bonobo has a temperament and a lifestyle vastly different from those of its genetic cousin. Where chimps are aggressive, territorial, and hierarchical, bonobos are gentle, loving, and erotic (sex for bonobos is as much about pleasure and social bonding as it is about reproduction).

While the parallels between chimp brutality and human brutality are easy to see, de Waal suggests that the conciliatory bonobo is just as legitimate a model to study when we explore our primate heritage. He even connects humanity's desire for fairness and its morality with primate behavior, offering a view of society that contrasts markedly with the caricature people have of Darwinian evolution. It's plain that our finest qualities run deeper in our DNA than experts have previously thought.

Frans de Waal has spent the last two decades studying our closest primate relations, and his observations of each species in Our Inner Ape encompass the spectrum of human behavior. This is an audacious book, an engrossing discourse that proposes thought-provoking and sometimes shocking connections among chimps, bonobos, and those most paradoxical of apes, human beings.

Spineless Wonders: Strange Tales from the Invertebrate World
Spineless Wonders
Strange Tales from the Invertebrate World
Hardcover      ISBN: 0805042180

We humans have a word for the feeling, whether actual or imagined, that creepy invertebrates are crawling over our skin. That word is formication, and the implied sense of horror and fascination, contends Richard Conniff, is something many of us actually crave. His Spineless Wonders presents an unabashed wallow in the joy of formication. Spineless Wonders is an engaging, sophisticated, and humorous mix of natural history and human lore. Through his journalistic assignments, Richard Conniff has been in contact with invertebrates for more than twenty years - tarantulas in the upper Amazon region, dragonflies in Arizona, squid in Florida, and flies on the rim of his beer glass. Discoveries about the extraordinary habits and idiosyncrasies of the moth, the leech, the ant, and the slime eel are opening new frontiers in the exploration of our natural universe. Spineless Wonders takes us directly to these wild and wonderful outposts to observe the hazards of being around invertebrates, the bizarre adaptions that enable them to survive in the world, and also the astonishing work they do - work that enables us to survive.