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Biology of Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizards [Hardcover]

Daniel D. Beck , Harry W. Greene , Brent E. Martin , Charles H. Lowe , Thomas Wiewandt

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Book Description

July 25 2005 0520243579 978-0520243576
No two lizard species have spawned as much folklore, wonder, and myth as the Gila Monster, Heloderma suspectum, and the Beaded Lizard, H. horridum—the sole survivors of an ancient group of predacious lizards called the Monstersauria. More like snakes on legs, monstersaurs are a walking contradiction: they are venomous yet don't appear to use their venom for subduing prey; their mottled patterns mingle with the broken shadows and textures of their desert and tropical dry forest habitats, yet their bright open mouths hiss a bold warning that a nasty bite awaits those who advance further. And while Gila Monster venom produces excruciating pain, it also contains a peptide that has become a promising new drug for treating type-2 diabetes. Perhaps the ultimate paradox is that monstersaurs are among the most famous of lizards, yet until quite recently they have remained among the least studied. With numerous illustrations, stunning color photographs, and an up-to-date synthesis of their biology, this book explains why the Monstersauria seems poised to change the way we think about lizards. Daniel D. Beck—who has been investigating Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizards for over 22 years—teams up here with award-winning wildlife photographer Tom Wiewandt to produce a comprehensive summary of this small but remarkable family of lizards.

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"Beck is the foremost authority on these animals and has published extensively on them. He provides a highly readable and fascinating summary of their biology." - Jonathan Campbell, author of Venomous Reptiles of Latin America"

From the Inside Flap

"This is the first comprehensive treatment of the biology of the Monstersauria in nearly 50 years, during which time our knowledge has increased dramatically. It gives the reader an unprecedented opportunity to understand the evolution, ecology, and behavior of gila monsters and beaded lizards, as well as insights into folklore, venom, and threats to the existence of these fabled animals."—William Cooper , Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne

"Beck is the foremost authority on these animals and has published extensively on them. He provides a highly readable and fascinating summary of their biology."—Jonathan Campbell, author of Venomous Reptiles of Latin America

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average Herp book July 24 2005
By Jerrold J. Feldner - Published on Amazon.com
As a member of the Tucson Herpetological Society, I have been hearing of the genesis of this book for years. I wondered, "How could a scientist in cold, wet, Washington write about Gilas and Beadeds?"

The answer was simple. Dan Beck spent many long, hot months in the Deserts of Arizona and surrounding states as well as in the Tropical Dry Forests of Mexico and Guatemala.

The result is a book that has been sorely needed for about a half-century. I picked it up and read it straight through in a few days as if it were a novel or a Harry Potter Book. I actually bought the book as a birthday present for my biologist son but after presenting him the first one, found I really needed to get one for myself as an easy reference to keep on my bookshelf.

I do not pretend to understand all the graphs and charts but I know they are necessary. Maybe someday I shall.

What I did like was the easy flow of the words as Dan Beck told the story of two of the most mysterious animals in the world. So little is known about these two species that often, writers are content to say, "They spend 95% of their time underground" or similar. Dan Beck fleshes out the story of why Heloderma spend so much time out of view and, presumably, underground. I also liked the manner in which the author introduced the next chapter in the last few words of the preceding chapter.For example, the last words of Chapter 4 on Physiological Ecology are,"we must consider their use of habitat and patterns of activity." Chapter 5 is appropriately titled, " Habitat Use and Activity Patterns." This is done a number of times but it took me several chapters to catch on.

One thing that greatly impressed me was the author's use of anecdotal information as well as research driven data from trusted sources. Many "stories" would have been dismissed years ago but are now considered as valuable information due to his own research.

Maybe this will be the beginning of a true understanding of these mysterious reptiles.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Helodermatid Lizard book out July 19 2008
By Steven Crumb - Published on Amazon.com
This book is very informative and is a great book on Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizads. This book was so good I could hardly put it down. This book gave me a greater understanding of Gila monsters and Beaded Lizards. This book is for anyone who wants to learn all aspects of Heloderma Lizards. I Recommend this to anybody who is Interested in them.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you want to know about heloderms Nov. 10 2006
By Guillermo A. Gonzalez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An Excellent book. If you want to know anything about Heloderms then this is the book for you. it covers just about every aspect of Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizards that you could hope to know. it has great pictures that that help you understand even better what he's speaking about in the book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best written so far. Sept. 25 2005
By Nikolai Curtis - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of those books every serious herpetologist interested in Heloderms should have. As a former zookeeper, this book would have been very helpful in solving some of the smaller problems with breeding the several subspecies of H. suspectum such as charlesbogerti and alvarezi. Anyone who wants to learn more should own this book for their reference collection.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! May 15 2012
By Biker Dave - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very detailed, yet easy to read, book regarding the Heloderms in North America. Using it as lunch time reading, so I have yet to finish it. But at about halfway through its a good book.

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