“Thoroughly Entertaining Adventure Stories”
Posted by Richard Conniff on December 31, 2011
The Species Seekers by Richard Conniff (Norton). Ecotourists today expect to be whisked off to remote locations to enjoy intimate views of wildlife from purpose-built hides. But explorers and naturalists formerly risked their lives and their sanity in pursuit of exotic species. Their prize was the thrill of novelty: to be the first to name what are still referred to as “species new to science.” In the eighteenth and ninteenth centuries, explorers thought nothing of battling with malaria, starvation or shipwreck to bring home the prize of a beautiful but unnamed bird or butterfly. Richard Conniff provides a thoroughly entertaining series of adventure stories revealing these taxonomic heroes, amply peppered with tales of rogues and nadmen. Many of these scientists are as exotic as the species they sought to discover.