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    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 ‘limpets’

Limpet, What Strong Teeth You Have!

Posted by Richard Conniff on March 5, 2015


I saw this macrophotograph of a limpet’s incredibly gothic teethSorry, make that goethite teeth, apparently incorporating one of the strongest materials known to man.  Anyway, it made me think about this poem by the impudent rascal Peter Dance:

I dislike the Limpet
always have and always will
watching it needs overtime
all it does is stay quite still
I so dislike the Limpet
to kill it would be easy
perpetrating such a crime
would not make me feel queasy.
Oh I dislike the Limpet
clamped so far as I can tell
on the same old rock all day
just a sucker in a shell.

 To which Dance’s outraged fellow members of the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland responded with a torrent of  incensed replies (though in one case, including something like a recipe).  Go, limpet lovers, go!

Meanwhile, here’s the press release on those wicked teeth. (And let’s just overlook the desperate news office writer–and the scientist!–who want to turn limpet teeth into Formula One race cars; this is a topic worthy of an entirely different kind of outraged poem.  The press release–a triumph of biomimicry wannabes over natural history–also neglects to answer the essential question of why limpets need such strong teeth to eat algae.)  But I digress:

Limpet teeth might be the strongest natural material known to humans, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth have discovered that limpets — small aquatic snail-like creatures with conical shells — have teeth with biological structures so strong they could be copied to make

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