Oct 26, 2017

Nature's Wonders in Full Color

edited by Charles L. Sherman

One of those larger picture-filled nature books I picked up for free, on the chance it might be good. Maybe once this was something to wow readers, but not anymore. I read the forward, where it was really apparent the authors were proud of the color photography selected for the book- but all the images are small and the quality leaves a lot to be desired. The afterward is full of advice for the wildlife photographer who wants to produce good color images, but I think it is really outdated.

In fact, I skimmed a lot of the book. When it was printed, the Audubon Society had a habit of disseminating knowledge to its members via printed pamphlets on various subjects, sent out through the mail. Then they had some writers compile info from all those pamphlets and write it up into a book. So it reads just like that- a bunch of little snippets of knowledge piled into chapters. The subjects include 'animal children', song birds, wild flowers, seeds and seed pods, flowering trees and shrubs, etc. Some were so dull and limiting in their info on each species I basically skipped over it. There are three chapters that discuss the inhabitants of a particular habitat: ponds, shallow seawater (tidepools and shorelines) and the Everglades. I did find the chapter all about eyes- from simple to complex- more interesting, and the one on camouflage. Also the one about different structures animals build, and another about 'inventions' of the natural world that mankind has copied (reminiscent of a particular scene in Encounters with Animals!) I also read the chapter about butterflies and moths in its entirety.

Some of the interesting facts I gleaned: freshwater dolphins that live in the Ganges river are blind. They have no lenses in their eyes. The water is too muddy to see, they probably evolved to just use echolocation. Thanks to this book I finally identified a large tree that grows in my sister's backyard. It has very long, beanlike seed pods. From the description, I bet it's a catalpa tree. I thought that painted lady butterflies came to my yard for the flowers- I often find them at the tithonia. But I learned that the caterpillars feed on turtlehead plants. So I shouldn't mind the holes in my turtlehead, if it means more pretty butterflies! Also, they tend to live in a small area, so I will probably have regular residents.

But I also came across a few lines of misinformation. One author states that camels store water in their humps, for example. (They don't. It's fat.) And I don't know how many other falsehoods are in here. This was an okay read for curiosity sake, but it's going in the donate pile now.

Rating: 2/5             252 pages, 1956

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