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Relics

Travels in Nature's Time Machine
Naskrecki, Piotr (Book - 2011 )
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
Relics
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On any night in early June, if you stand on the right beaches of America's East Coast, you can travel back in time all the way to the Jurassic. For as you watch, thousands of horseshoe crabs will emerge from the foam and scuttle up the beach to their spawning grounds, as they've done, nearly unchanged, for more than 440 million years. Horseshoe crabs are far from the only contemporary manifestation of Earth's distant past, and in Relics , world-renowned zoologist and photographer Piotr Naskrecki leads readers on an unbelievable journey through those lingering traces of a lost world. With camera in hand, he travels the globe to create a words-and-pictures portrait of our planet like no other, a time-lapse tour that renders Earth's colossal age comprehensible, visible in creatures and habitats that have persisted, nearly untouched, for hundreds of millions of years. Naskrecki begins by defining the concept of a relic--a creature or habitat that, while acted upon by evolution, remains remarkably similar to its earliest manifestations in the fossil record. Then he pulls back the Cambrian curtain to reveal relic after eye-popping relic: katydids, ancient reptiles, horsetail ferns, majestic magnolias, and more, all depicted through stunning photographs and first-person accounts of Naskrecki's time studying them and watching their interactions in their natural habitats. Then he turns to the habitats themselves, traveling to such remote locations as the Atewa Plateau of Africa, the highlands of Papua New Guinea, and the lush forests of the Guyana Shield of South America--a group of relatively untrammeled ecosystems that are the current end point of staggeringly long, uninterrupted histories that have made them our best entryway to understanding what the prehuman world looked, felt, sounded, and even smelled like. The stories and images of Earth's past assembled in Relics are beautiful, breathtaking, and unmooring, plunging the reader into the hitherto incomprehensible reaches of deep time. We emerge changed, astonished by the unbroken skein of life on Earth and attentive to the hidden heritage of our planet's past that surrounds us.
Authors: Naskrecki, Piotr
Title: Relics
travels in nature's time machine
Publisher: Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2011, ©2011
Characteristics: xviii, 342 pages :,color illustrations ;,25 cm
Statement of Responsibility: text and photos by Piotr Naskrecki
Contents: The land of the unexpected
Travels in the Meddle Earth
Mother's care
The Southern kingdom
The Rain Queen's garden
Atewa
Guiana shield
The Yin and Yang of the notoptera
The great ocean escape
In the sagebrush
A walk in the Estabrook Woods
A word about photography
ISBN: 0226568709
9780226568706
Branch Call Number: 333.9516 N254r 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references and index
Subject Headings: Relicts (Biology) Pictorial works Relicts (Biology)
Topical Term: Relicts (Biology)
Relicts (Biology)
Additional Physical Form Entry: Online version: Naskrecki, Piotr. Relics. Chicago ; London : University of Chicago Press, [2011] 9780226568720 (OCoLC)742385420
LCCN: 2011004413
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Library Staff

A words-and-pictures portrait of earth like no other. Visit habitats and see creatures that have lived nearly untouched for hundreds of millions of years. Dinospiders, goliath tarantulas, horseshoe crabs, and many more are detailed with Naskrecki's brilliant writing.

Comment by: multcolib Sep 08, 2012

This item is a Multnomah County Library Staff Pick. See more of our favorites at our blog, An Embarrassment of Riches: https://web.multcolib.org/blog/embarrassment-riches.

For the purpose of the gorgeous and astounding book, Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine by Piotr Maskrecki, the author... Read More »


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This item is a Multnomah County Library Staff Pick. See more of our favorites at our blog, An Embarrassment of Riches: https://web.multcolib.org/blog/embarrassment-riches.

For the purpose of the gorgeous and astounding book, Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine by Piotr Maskrecki, the author defines a relic in this way:

Relic: a creature or habitat that, while acted upon by evolution, remains remarkably similar to its earliest manifestations in the fossil record.

Do we have relics here in the U.S. of A.? Bunches. Among them, the Atlantic horseshoe crab. It lives on the eastern North American Coast and has been doing a mass spawning every Spring, like clockwork, for 440 million years.

Relics not found in the U.S. : Emerald and black mottled treerunnner: Its cache of eggs is normally stashed in elevated piles of leaves in the geographical area of Africa called the Guiana Shield. If the nest is disturbed by a predator near the end of the eggs' development, all the eggs will hatch at once, within seconds of each other, the infant lizards scattering in all directions.

The Atewa dinospider from West Africa is from an ancient group of arachnids that go back all the way to the Carboniferous period. When was that? Three-hundred million years ago. What's a dinospider look like? Think brown pipe cleaners--those fuzzy things you used in third grade art class.

And New Guinea....my goodness. You're amazing. A giant, newly discovered and as yet unnamed gliding frog (think flying squirrel) and an equally astonishing and also as yet unnamed tiny frog of the species Choerophryne, smaller than a human fingernail.

I'd go further into the spider arena but I know it's gonna freak out some of you. But I can't leave without mentioning the Goliath tarantula that weighs in over 150 grams--about a third of a pound--that the author of this book thought at first was a small mammal when he saw it scurrying across the forest floor. I'm not an arachnophobe but the picture of this bad boy was all it took for me to close the book.

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