Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife

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9780805056976: Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife

"Despite the efforts of many earnest and life-affirming people to persuade me that the vampire bat is our friend and that Native Americans enjoyed true harmony with Brother Wolf, I have never quite overcome the gut feeling that fear of nature is normal....It can also be pleasurable....What I really find creepy and wonderful about nature are not its great terrors, but its weird, unsuspected minutiae...for instance, that some sharks practice sibling cannibalism in the womb, or that a mole will paralyze earthworms, ball them up in a knot, and seal them away in individual cells in the walls of its chambered mound, still living, to be eaten at leisure. I am captivated by the sight of a keyhole limpet...[which] carries a sort of vicious pet under its shell, like an old lady's lap dog."--From Every Creeping Thing

In this sequel to Spineless Wonders, Richard Conniff once again explores the tangled connections between human beings and animals (this time mostly vertebrates). His adventures take us from an island in the Gulf Stream, where a man devotes his life to the devilbird, to provincial England, where bloodhounds and riders on horseback hunt down a human being for sport.

With his characteristically offbeat approach, Conniff focuses on some of the least huggable members of the animal world-- porcupines, snapping turtles, cormorants, bats, mice, moles. Through their lives, Conniff introduces us to some of the strangest behaviors on earth. We meet sharks that practice sibling cannibalism in their mother's womb, bats that delight in a sybaritic "disco mating strategy," and five-hundred-pound grizzly bears that gorge themselves on moths in August. Every Creeping Thing is a fascinating, comic tour through the far side of the animal kingdom.

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Review:

"Animals are the source of some of our most imaginative and persistent fantasies, and these fantasies are the only way most of us ever get to escape from our urbanized and domesticated lives into a larger world," writes Richard Conniff in the introduction to Every Creeping Thing. But Conniff, author of Spineless Wonders, has some rather strange ideas of the kinds of animals we might want to daydream about. Take the little brown bat ... please: "When their mouths are open and their insect-gnashing teeth exposed, they look like the sort of particularly unpleasant lap dog that a Barbie doll would have in her spiteful and neglected old age."

Conniff lovingly describes the habits of grizzlies, mice, cormorants, weasels, sharks, porcupines, moles, snapping turtles, and other underappreciated critters, including the scientists and fanciers who pay attention to these animals. In deadpan prose, Conniff describes the decorative nature of bloodhound slobber ("It hangs down in ropes from the upper lips, or flews, and sometimes gets festooned between the lip and the end of either ear.") and the distinctive mating call of the porcupine ("It is like a baby whimpering from a dream that is bad and getting worse... "). Every Creeping Thing is a delightful, yet far too short, tour of our love-hate relationship with some "faintly repulsive wildlife." --Therese Littleton

About the Author:

Richard Conniff has written about natural history and American life for such magazines as The Atlantic Monthly, Discover, Smithsonian, National Geographic, and Time, winning the 1997 National Magazine Award for "Special Interests." He is the author of Spineless Wonders: Strange Tales form the Invertebrate World and is a television writer and producer of nature programs for the National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. He lives in Connecticut.

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Richard Conniff, Sally J. Bensusen (Illustrator)
Editorial: Henry Holt and Co. (1998)
ISBN 10: 0805056971 ISBN 13: 9780805056976
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Richard Conniff
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Conniff, Richard
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