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  • Richard Conniff

  • Reviews for Richard Conniff’s Books


    Ending Epidemics: A History of Escape from Contagion: “Ending Epidemics is an important book, deeply and lovingly researched, written with precision and elegance, a sweeping story of centuries of human battle with infectious disease. Conniff is a brilliant historian with a jeweler’s eye for detail. I think the book is a masterpiece.” Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer

    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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Posts Tagged ‘Borneo’

20,000-Year-Old Cave Art from Borneo Depicts Humans Dancing

Posted by Richard Conniff on November 6, 2018

by Richard Conniff

A new study in the journal Nature dates this depiction of humans dancing to between 13,600 and 20,000 years ago. But I have to admit that the big news, for the researchers, is actually that another image from the same caves in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, is the oldest known figurative art of any kind, and it depicts an unidentified animal.

Let’s go to the press release (but stick around because my heart is in the dancing  and we are going to get back to that topic shortly):

The world’s earliest-known figurative painting is identified in a paper published online this week in Nature. The cave painting, from Borneo, depicts an indeterminate animal and dates back to at least 40,000 years ago.

The limestone caves of Borneo’s East Kalimantan province contain thousands of rock art images, grouped into three phases: red-orange paintings of animals (mainly wild cattle) and hand stencils; younger, mulberry-coloured hand stencils and intricate motifs, alongside depictions of humans; and a final phase of human figures, boats and geometric designs in black pigment. However, the exact timing of these works had been unclear.

Maxime Aubert and colleagues studied a large, red-orange coloured painting of an indeterminate animal in the Lubang Jeriji Saléh cave. Using a uranium-series analysis, the authors date the limestone crusts that have grown over the art. They determine a minimum age for the underlying painting of Read the rest of this entry »

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World’s Rarest Cat Caught on Camera

Posted by Richard Conniff on November 5, 2013

Bay cat prowling through its Borneo home.

Bay cat prowling through its Borneo home.

Most readers visiting this blog today will be coming for my article about why housecats and dogs don’t belong in the wild. But here’s one wild cat they should be fighting for.  The bay cat’s forest home in Borneo is rapidly being logged, probably to make that inexpensive bedroom set you have your eye on, or those picture frames on sale at your local art shop. (I walk away now any time a wood product says manufactured in Vietnam, China, or Indonesia.)

This photograph is further testimony to the rapidly advancing value of camera traps in understanding what’s going on in the natural world.  (You can see my recent article on anti-poaching camera traps here.)

Here’s the press release describing why the photo made zoologists stand up and say, “Whoa!”:

The world’s least known cat has been caught on camera in a previously unsurveyed rainforest by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Imperial College London.

Until now, the bay cat (Pardofelis badia) had been recorded on camera traps just a handful of times in its Borneo forest home and was only photographed in the wild for the first time in 2003. But Read the rest of this entry »

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