- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (Sept. 20 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0871137976
- ISBN-13: 978-0871137975
- Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 2.5 x 28.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #724,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World's Extinct Animals Hardcover – Sep 20 2001
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From Library Journal
This work offers a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of 103 mammals, reptiles, and birds that have become extinct since 1492. For each animal, Flannery (The Eternal Frontier) describes what is known of its habitat, behavior, and probable cause of extinction. These accounts are beautifully written, often anecdotal, and almost always poignant. Whitney Award-winning wildlife painter Schouten produced the accompanying illustrations, which are stunning, full-color, and sometimes spread across two pages. In some cases, these illustrations may be the most accurate renderings anyone has ever produced of these creatures. Flannery and Schouten did extensive research into the literature and reviewed, in person, skeletal and other remains located in museums; numerous species were excluded owing to insufficient materials upon which to base an accurate drawing. A little more in the way of factual data, such as probable size, would have been appreciated in some of the descriptions. For example, the Kawekaweau, a lizard that once inhabited New Zealand, is described as "giant," but no estimated length or weight is given, even though the authors viewed the skin of one of these geckos. Nevertheless, this book, which includes the "big names" such as the dodo and passenger pigeon as well as many lesser-known but fascinating animals, is highly recommended for all academic and large public libraries. (Map not seen.) Lynn C. Badger, Univ. of Florida Lib., Gainesville
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
There are gaps in every natural area on the planet, created when animal species paid the price for the expansion of our own species--in other words, extinction. The initial spread of humans from our ancestral home in Africa happened so long ago that most of the first victims were never preserved or even depicted. Flannery and artist Schouten show 103 species that have gone extinct between 1500 and 1999, species adequately enough known for Flannery to write about and Schouten to illustrate. Flannery begins this homage to these lost animals with an essay on the age of extinctions, explaining the loss of animals as humans colonized new areas. Presented chronologically, the following portraits and text reveal the extent of our knowledge of each animal. In many cases, little is known except where the animal came from and perhaps a little about what it ate. The true strength of the book, which almost necessitates its purchase, is Schouten's illustrations. This book is as close as we will ever get to these irretrievable animals, and it is highly recommended for all libraries. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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When my grandchildren visit, they often ask me the classical question of how I can read a book without pictures. Not with this book! The pictures are the chief attraction of "A Gap In Nature". Organized by the Australian writer, Tim Flannery, this book collects in one place a tribute to the many species that have become extinct in the recent past, since the first voyage of Columbus.
The artist, Peter Schouten, spent years drawing life-sized portraits for each of the 103 animals, for the beautiful illustrations of this book. Schouten's brilliant, full color illustrations are a delight to look at, and will keep the attention of even a three-year-old boy. My grandson asked, "What's that?" as we turned the pages and then, "Is that a mouse?" when looking at the "Pig-footed Bandicoot" on pages 96-97. No, I found out that the Bandicoot was not a mouse, but rather an Australian marsupial, about "...the size of a kitten". I had never seen such an animal before, and that is the poignant message of this book. The beautiful pictures show animals that no longer exist.
The author, Tim Flannery, has previously expounded his thesis that the arrival of humankind heralded the extinction of so many different animals on so many different continents and islands. For example, in his recent book, "The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples", Flannery ascribes the destruction of the mammoths, mastodons and giant sloths to the arrival of the first humans in North America some 13,200 years ago, in what he terms "a megafauna barbecue". In "A Gap In Nature", Dr. Flannery does not have to dwell too deeply on the culpability of humans in this worldwide extinction. It is enough to sit there and sadly turn page after page, picture after picture, of so many beautiful animals, which no longer exist.
The illustrations are beautiful and a quick browse through may leave you with a disturbing and lasting impression of just what colorful and variety of species has been lost. Flannery's descriptions are informative, if basic. One of the most noticeable features is the high representation of Island species. The Auckland Island merganser, Chatham Islands fernbird, and the Falkland Islands dog are long gone. So are species in Cuba, Guadeloupe, Hawaii, Jamaica, Labrador Island, Martinique, Seychelles, Swan Island, Tahiti, Tonga and Wake Island. Not yet mentioned is Mauritius which is known for one of the more shameful extinction stories - not the blue pigeon, but the Dodo.
The high representation of Island extinctions is not a surprise to persons familiar with the subject of biodiversity. Islands have some of the richest ecosystems on the planet. Unfortunately they are also some of the most vulnerable to both man-made and natural shocks.
This book is aimed at non-specialists, those taking introductory college level biology, or persons who are just beginning to be aware of what biodiversity is all about. If that's you and you enjoyed these beautiful illustrations but were saddened by the loss, I would encourage you to follow up by reading THE DIVERSITY OF LIFE by E.O. Wilson or David Quammen's book on Island Biogeography appropriately titled THE SONG OF THE DODO
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