I bet you thought the next post would be Part 2 of the Mute Swan post. I felt bad having to go back to the bird topic so quick after the barrage from Project Chekov so trying to ease you back onto the feathered features. Instead figured it was about time to throw out another Book Recollection. Today’s recollection comes to us thanks to Melissa Farris who compiled a product she called Deadly Instinct. I can’t remember what made me aware of this book, but my guess would be one of the wildlife photographers I follow on Google+ brought it too my attention. No need for a lot of convincing past the cover which had the National Geographic seal along with a Lion bringing down a Wildebeest – I’m in. Big thanks to Linda who ended up getting me this book for Christmas. Technically, coming in at only 180 pages, it is really more of a photography book than a reading book. There was a setup at the beginning of each chapter that set the tone for the set of images. Once that page or two was consumed, it was on to a nice collection of shots… umm let me correct that. There were some FANTASTIC shots, a lot of cool wildlife shots and then some I simply put in the TOTAL CRAP category. I’m sorry, but I like my pictures to be in focus and the attempt to show speed by throwing the shutter speed way low resulting in a blur you wouldn’t even know what it was unless they told you is not worth my time – trust me, there were more of these shots than I would have expected alongside the other quality shots. I wouldn’t let the bad shots deter you from enjoying all the good shots, but note to author – there were plenty of better shots you could have used of the Gorillas. The best part of the book was it had a number of pictures from my favorite photographer – Joel Sartore. If you recall I featured one of his books previously called Rare (link here). I had a feeling some of his work would be included based on the National Geographic stamp on the cover. Pretty used to his style these days and can usually pick out his work without seeing the credits first. Was surprised to learn he started on his naturalist journey after seeing the harsh conditions of the Galveston coast. Always cool to learn more about the background of photographer’s you spend a lot of time following.
I should probably mention something before people run off to purchase this book to see the “purdy” pictures. The pictures are not all “pretty” in the hang on your wall and let your visitors gawk over mode. The truth is the intent of the book is to show how lethal, dangerous and aggressive wild animal behavior is. If you are weak of stomach or god forbid a PETA member save your money and go watch the Muppets Movie instead. This book is full of violent, bloody wildlife on wildlife encounters. Oh, and a lot snakes so Linda has been warned to never open the book herself – about 5 pages in there is a particular awesome picture of a Vine Snake that even made me hesitate when I turned to that page. Also very appreciative of the heavy paper stock she used which helps maintain the quality of the pictures. Kudos to the photographers that provided all the outstanding shots to this book. It always inspires me when I see the work of photographers that are clearly on top of their field. A pretty short recollection but the book only took me two nights of light reading before hitting the hay.
Hit the jump to see my takeaways.
- The first National Geographic magazine devoted to wildlife was first published over 100 years ago
- George Shiras III introduced the first federal legislation that protected migrating birds as a Pennsylvania Congressman and discovered a species of Moose that was named after him.
- My favorite photographer Joel Sartore was profiled – apparently the horrific conditions of the Galveston coastline (tar, litter etc.) put him on the course to help preserve the natural world
- Looking through a camera lens, it turns out, is often much like gazing into a mirror – much to the horror I’m guessing of individuals who forget our eyes are on the front of our head and we sport bicuspids.
- Thanks to the wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone, the cottonwoods are in a resurgence which protects soil erosion
- Actually had an underwater picture of a Pelican after it dive bombed into the water for a fish – that was really cool since I just recently witnessed how they fish
- The Mongoose was brought to Hawaii in 1883 to help control the rat infestations in the sugar cane fields – now habitually preys on their ground nesting birds – once again man f’ing with nature backfires
- In the lakes of Oregon’s Williamette Valley lurks a deadly creature – the Rough-skin Newt which carries enough neurotoxin (similar to the Puffer fish – and no I did not know those were toxic either) to kill 25,000 mice, several adult humans or any of its predators except .. the Garter Snake – the more toxic the Newt gets, the more resistant the Garters become – evolution at its finest – as well as the harmless Hoverfly which evolved to take on the coloring of a wasp for protection
- I can always pick out Sartore’s later work – his passion is to take fantastic shots of rare wildlife on an all black background – his Rough-skin Newt picture is awesome
- They mentioned that the Black Rhino will charge a perceived threat to investigate or intimidate and if the threat doesn’t run launch a full scale charge – according to the St. Louis Zoo their eyesight is so bad that they have to run up to see what the hell something is and this is often perceived as an aggressive action
- I had no idea that wild stallions were so aggressive to each other – attacking throats, ripping ears off, biting and kicking – this is why I am not a fan of horses!
- Panamint Rattlesnakes (although apparently common in many snake species) engage in a ritualized combat dance which results in them becoming entwined – some say this is what inspired Hermes’s staff (medical profession symbol)
- We share 98% of our DNA with Chimpanzees – wonder how much of that remaining 2% is a TAIL!
- Ravens have been observed dislodging overhead rocks to drive humans away .. telling you, those Ravens are one evolutionary step away from ruling the world
- Spotted Hyenas are often born in twins eyes open and sharp teeth at the ready which allows them to battle with each other right after birth – once a dominant one is determined the social order is established and the outright fighting is ended
- Remember seeing that picture of the Polar bear befriending a sled dog on the Internet.. well, they have that picture in this book along with the individual who took those pictures – just an awesome experience captured for all to enjoy.
- Sartore actually has a set of shots included that were taken at the International Wolf Center – he was smarter than we were – he went in the Winter, we fought the mosquitoes in the Summer