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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 Lure of Long Distances: Ancient Explorers

Posted by Richard Conniff on January 7, 2013

Click the image to open in full size.

In about 325 B.C. the Greek explorer Pytheas dared to sail past Gibraltar out into the great world beyond, and may have gotten as far as Iceland.  What important discovery did he make in his travels?

a. That the earth is round.

b. That the Celts were ferocious warriors who nailed their enemies’ heads over their doors.

c. That northern regions were inhabited by “a monstrous white bear.”

d. That the tides are associated with the phases of the moon.

And the answer is:

(d)  Pytheas connected the tides with the phases of the moon.  The extreme tidal changes in northern waters probably made the moon’s influence more apparent, especially after the minimal tides of the Mediterranean.  In his book On the Ocean, Pytheas also introduced the idea of Thule, a distant northern land.  It soon entered the human imagination, with the help of the Roman poet Virgil, as Ultima Thule, a mysterious place beyond the borders of the known world.

WEB EXTRAS:  map of his journey:  http://www.ub.uit.no/northernlights/eng/pyth02.htm

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One Response to “The Lure of Long Distances: Ancient Explorers”

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