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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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Posts Tagged ‘deception’

Nature as a Conspiracy of Con Artists

Posted by Richard Conniff on March 17, 2014

Jumping spider that lives as stealth ant (Photo: Robert Jackson)

Jumping spider that lives as stealth ant (Photo: Robert Jackson)

My latest for Takepart:

When we grow tired of the lies and fakery of human life, we often turn to the natural world for all that is honest and true. “What strength belongs to every plant and animal in nature,” Ralph Waldo Emerson once exulted. “The tree or the brook has no duplicity, no pretentiousness, no show. It is, with all its might and main, what it is.”

A lovely sentiment to be sure, but the natural world is in fact overrun with fakes, liars, imitators, and con artists, of almost every color and description. There are beetles that pretend to be wasps, aardwolves that pretend to be hyenas, caterpillars that pretend to be bird poop (the better not to be eaten by birds), and a night-flying bird, the pootoo, which pretends to be a broken tree branch by day, so it can sleep in peace.

The natural world can seem at times like a grand charade, and with apologies to Mr. Emerson, there might just as well be a blinking neon sign at the entrance saying “Duplicity “R” Us.” For a naturalist, this is Read the rest of this entry »

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