strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

  • Richard Conniff

  • Reviews for Richard Conniff’s Books

    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

  • Wall of the Dead

  • Categories

  • Advertisements

Good Morning, Aussies: How Shells Changed the Fate of a Continent

Posted by Richard Conniff on August 5, 2009

Here’s another excerpt from my story about seashells in the August Smithsonian:

The craving for shells was even powerful enough to change the fate of a continent: at the start of the 19th century, when rival French and British expeditions set out for the unknown coasts of Australia, the British moved faster. The French were delayed, one of those on board complained, because their captain was more eager “to discover a new mollusk than a new landmass.” And when the two expeditions met up in 1802 at what is now Encounter Bay, on the south coast of Australia, a French officer complained to the British captain that “if we had not been kept so long picking up shells and catching butterflies…you would not have discovered the south coast before us.” The French went home with their specimens, while the British quickly moved to expand their colony on the island continent.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s