strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

  • Richard Conniff

  • Reviews for Richard Conniff’s Books

    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 ‘murder’

How Naturalists Die

Posted by Richard Conniff on October 17, 2013

Oh, geez. A field biologist has charted all the ways naturalists have died on my Wall of the Dead.  Is this cautionary?  Or just macabre?

Anyway, here you go.  It automatically saved to my computer as death.jpg:

How naturalists die.

How naturalists die.

Posted in Fear & Courage, The Species Seekers | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Murder and the Immortal Exine

Posted by Richard Conniff on June 20, 2012

Pollen (photo by Endless Forms Most Beautiful)

The first time police used pollen to solve a crime was in Austria in 1959. A forensic scientist studying the mud on a murder suspect’s boot found what turned out to be a 20-million-year-old pollen grain from a hickory tree. That species no longer grew in Austria then. But investigators were able to locate a Miocene sediment outcrop on the Danube River, from which such a pollen grain could have become recycled into the environment.

“We know you killed him,” they told the murder suspect, in the best police procedural fashion, “and we know where.” Then they took him to the outcrop. The suspect was so unnerved that he led them straight to the victim’s grave.

Pollen analysis is still surprisingly rare in U.S. courtrooms, though such cases have made it commonplace in some other countries. Even in the “CSI” era, Americans tend not to think about it much, other than as a cause of hay fever. Certainly no one grows up wanting to be a pollen scientist. Even experts in the field have a curious tendency to explain that they came to pollen only by accident and somehow got hooked. It’s as if they fear that outsiders might otherwise think them congenitally dull.

But for an impressive, if less sensational, variety of purposes other than forensics, pollen analysis has become a standard tool: Government agencies analyze the pollen content of fake Viagra and other prescription drugs to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Biodiversity | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »