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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 ‘fur’

Pterosaurs Just Keep Getting Weirder

Posted by Richard Conniff on December 20, 2018

Wild and crazy anurognathid

by Richard Conniff/Scientific American

Even experts often resort to the word “bizarre” when describing pterosaurs, the winged dragons that ruled the skies for more than 160 million years. This is especially true of the group of short-tailed pterosaurs called anurognathids, which used to dart and bob through Mesozoic era forests like bats, hawking for insects.

Now it appears anurognathids and other pterosaurs may also have worn a weirdly varied coat of feather- and fur-like structures, according to a new study published Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution. A team led by paleontologist Zixiao Yang from Nanjing University in China reached that conclusion based on two near-complete, pigeon-size anurognathid pterosaur specimens found in northern China.

The idea that pterosaurs (which lived from around 228 million years ago to the Cretaceous extinction 66 million years ago) may have had some kind of furlike coat is not by itself new. Researchers have proposed as much since the discovery of the first known pterosaurs in the 19th century. But the exact character of this covering has been difficult to determine from the short, filamentlike structures—called pycnofibers—preserved in pterosaur fossils. The new study set out to fill in that gap with the help of a battery of advanced technological tools. As a result, the authors characterize what they say are Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s Time for the Fur Trade to Protect Big Cats in the Wild

Posted by Richard Conniff on October 22, 2016

The 20th century fur trade killed at least 182,564 Amazonian jaguars for their pelts. (Photo: Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images)

The 20th century fur trade killed 182,564 Amazonian jaguars for their pelts. (Photo: Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images)

by Richard Conniff/Takepart.com

Reporting last month for National Geographic magazine, I came away with a contrarian approach to the fur trade:  Animal rights activists have always wanted to ban fur farming, “but banning doesn’t stop people from wearing fur,” I wrote. “It just moves production to areas where no rules apply,” notably China. A more logical approach would be to keep fur farming legal, particularly in North America and Europe, under regulatory and marketplace pressures intended to make it a model for the entire livestock industry.

Interviewing people who work in the trade, I added one other idea: They know customers increasingly seek assurance that animals are being farmed as humanely possible, and on environmentally sustainable lines.  New industry initiatives like Europe’s WelFur farm inspection system explicitly aim to meet those expectations.  So why not go a step further? Why not set aside a percentage of each fur coat to support conservation of fur-bearing animals in the wild? It would of course be a marketing tool. But it would also begin to compensate for the unregulated commercial exploitation of spotted cats and other species in the past.  I’ll get to the industry response in a moment. First the news:

A study out this week in the journal Science Advances aims to calculate just how devastating that trade used to be. A team of researchers Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Conservation and Extinction, Environmental Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »