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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 ‘wormholes’

The Natural History of a Wood Picture Frame

Posted by Richard Conniff on November 22, 2012

When you see an old picture frame with worm holes, you’re looking at one of the many places where art meets natural history.  Here’s the story from ScienceDaily:

Down the “worm” hole of a picture frame

By examining art printed from woodblocks spanning five centuries, Blair Hedges, a professor of biology at Penn State University, has identified the species responsible for making the ever-present wormholes in European printed art since the Renaissance. The hole-makers, two species of wood-boring beetles, are widely distributed today, but the “wormhole record,” as Hedges calls it, reveals a different pattern in the past, where the two species met along a zone across central Europe like a battle line of two armies.

The research, which is the first of its kind to use printed art as a “trace fossil” to precisely date species and to identify their locations, will be published in the journal Biology Letters on Nov. 21.

Hedges explained that most printed “wormholes” were formed in the carved woodblocks by adult insects and not by the worm-like larvae. After landing on a piece of dry wood, beetles lay their eggs in cracks and crevices. The larvae then spend three to four years burrowing inside the wood, nourishing themselves on the wood’s cellulose and growing until they enter the cocoon-like pupal stage when they transform into adults. The adult beetles then burrow straight up toward the surface of the wood, exiting to find a mate and to begin the life cycle anew. “The so-called ‘wormholes’ found in wood — including furniture, rafters, oak floors, and woodblocks that were used to print art in books — are not Read the rest of this entry »

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