strange behaviors

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    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)

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The Species Seekers Quiz: Wallace’s House of Rest

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 15, 2011

After spending a dozen years in the tropics and making his reputation as the greatest field biologist of the nineteenth century, Alfred Russel Wallace later gave this name to the house where he retired:

1.  Darwinia, to honor his co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection (though his wife Annie had suggested Wallacea).

2.  Umbraculum, from the Latin word for a place of quiet retirement.

3.  Tulgey Wood, after a nonsense verse by Lewis Carroll.

4.  Birdwing, for his discovery of the spectacular Wallace’s golden birdwing butterfly.

And the answer is:

The worlds of species seeking and nonsense verse were surprisingly interconnected (you can read about it in The Species Seekers, Chapter 13, “A Fool to Nature” ).   Wallace was so enamored of Lewis Carroll’s work that, late in life, with his travels to the Amazon and the East Indies far behind him, he named his house Tulgey Wood, after the haunt of the jujub bird and the frumious bandersnatch in “Jabberwocky”:

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

Here’s a picture of the house at  149 Lower Blandford Road, Broadstone, Dorset, and here’s the Google map. Wallace built Tulgey Wood  in 1908 and died there five years later.

And finally, click here to see more of the  creatures in jubjub artist David Elliot’s excellent menagerie.


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