Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine Hardcover – Oct 31 2011
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"Piotr Naskrecki's new book is not easy to read. Physically, I mean. I have wanted to review this book for some time. After all, Piotr Naskrecki is a leading conservation photographer and katydid biologist, and I loved Naskrecki’s last book.
But I had to concentrate hard to stay focused on the text. The trouble is Relics comprises page after page of the most jaw-droppingly spectacular nature photography you’ve ever seen. No matter how compelling Naskrecki's prose, no matter how insightful his observations or unexpectedly charming his facts, his words reluctantly share pages with his starkly beautiful images of life with all its teeth and colors and scales and spiny legs. Spiders that look like floppy muppets. Crickets with edible wings. Expectant frog fathers. Killer katydids. Oh, and something called a 'Dinospider.' Yeah."--Alex Wild, Scientific American
(Alex Wild Scientific American)
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Top Customer Reviews
So that's the negative. The positives are that the author is a field biologist who goes to lots of interesting places, sees lots of different plants and animals, takes really great pictures of them, and experiences some interesting stories along the way. Of all the above, the photographs are the most impressive part of this book. The author is clearly not just a biologist, but also a very gifted photographer. Many of his subjects are smaller invertebrates that are captured in fascinating close-up shots.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The photos are done in splendid colour with exquisite close-ups. In a sense they are not what one could call beautiful, but they are superb in their intensity and realism that pops off of the page. The photographs are more daunting in some instances than any Hollywood special effects or make-up person could dream of creating.
Among the subjects covered are; the unexpected in New Guinea, travels in New Zealand, a mother's care, South Africa, the rain queen's garden, Atewa, Guiana shield, Notoptera, the ocean, in the sagebrush and the Estabrook Woods.
Most amazing is the section on the Atlantic horseshoe crab on the New Jersey shore. These pictures of the horseshoe crabs emerging from and in the surf are some of the most astonishing naturalist photos I have seen in my life.
The information in the text covers the natural world in these remarkable spots...the arachnids that can be traced back 300 million years and not to be forgotten amongst all of the living creatures is the ginkgo.
There are interesting notes at the end of the book to give more information and a detailed index. This is both a coffee table book and a text on the living fossils and natural surroundings of the wilds of this earth.
This is a book for even the young - potential biologists and naturalists and of course anyone else interested in that world or the realms of naturalist photography.
He travels the globe to document these critters and plants, from the deserts of Namibia and jungles of Guyana to the lush lands of New Zealand, and even to suburban Boston. That latter is the subject of his chapter "A Walk in the Estabrook Woods," in which he documents a wide diversity of life in this nature preserve in Concord. What really stood out for me here were his amazing photos of tiny fairy shrimp cavorting in a shallow vernal pool, whose ancestors sprang up in the Cambrian Period more than 500 million years ago. They emerge from dormant eggs in spring, and quietly reproduce and lay eggs before the vernal pools dry up as summer approaches. Some eggs lay dormant for multiple seasons, meaning extended drought can't cut their genetic line off. How do those eggs know to remain dormant while their twins start their watery lives? No one knows.
For all the creatures and plants that Naskrecki documents, millions of years have gone by, and yes, evolution has changed them in subtle ways from their ancestors. But they are similar enough--relics of a long-gone era. It probably goes without saying that these plants and animals that have withstood all the challenges that nature offered for millennia upon millennia are finding it tough going now that they are up against nature's premier destructive mechanism: mankind. Through habitat loss and outright killing, we're decimating these last remnants of an earlier age, species by species. Naskrecki documents tentative efforts to save them, but it's hard not to be pessimistic. Still, one knows that even long after we're merely part of the fossil record, some of this diversity will survive, and go on to thrive, as it has for hundreds of millions of years.
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