the natural world
Egret, the oldest independent
U.S. journal of nature
Egret, Vol. 75, #1
recent nature writing,
natural history and guidebooks with Book
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by the Outrider
“My first reaction to the raccoons was that of surprise, a
of excitement as the strange sound resolved into the advancing trio.
Then the raccoons' appealing faces came close: dark velvet masks set in
crisp white borders, obsidian eyes, rounded ears perked jauntily, and
slender noses. All this set in ruffs of silver fur. One thing was
evident: these animals were adorable."
"A moth shuffles its tawny feet over my
skin, tasting me with thousands of chemical detectors. Six tongues!
Every step is a burst of sensation. Walking across a hand or leaf must
be like swimming in wine, mouthy open. My vintage meets the moth's
approval, so his probiscus unfurls, rolling down from between the
bright green eyes. Unrolled, the probiscus juts straight down from the
moth's head, like an arrow pointing at my skin. At the point of
contact, the probiscus's rigidity softens and the tip flops backward,
pointing between the moth's legs."
Watch in Nature
by David George Haskell
Like a Tibetan monk contemplating a mandala, the author selects a
meter-wide forested slope in southern Tennessee along the western edge
of the Cumberland Plateau for a year-long exercise in
and undisturbing observation.
"Can the whole forest be seen through a small contemplative window of
leaves, rocks, and water?" he asks.
This is no set schedule for the author's visits, but he comes to the
site several times each week to sit on a flat slab of sandstone and
observe. This book relates the events inside the "mandala"
chronologically as they occur.
in the Second World War noticed that color-blind soldiers were better
at seeing through camouglage than were soldiers with normal vision...
The superior pattern-finding abilities of dichromats may seem
peculiar but unimportant quirk of an unlucky mutation. Two facts
the frequency of
dichromatism in humans, two to eight percent of all males, is much
higher than would be expected if the condition were a maladaptation.
Such commonness suggests that evolution may, in some circumstances,
smile on the condition.
our cousins the
monkeys also have both dichromats and trichromats living together
within the same species. Dichromats in these species make up half or
more of the population, again suggesting that dichromatism is not just
an accidental effect... New World monkeys generally live in cooperative
groups, so it is to everyone's advantage to have both types of vision
within the same group -- food can be found in all kinds of lighting
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