Duck Duck Book

25 – smaller majority
10.16.2005, 12:02 am
Filed under: science

The smaller majority : the hidden world of the animals that dominate the
tropics / Piotr Naskrecki.
Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005.
[MCL call number: 591.70913 N254s 2005; two copies, no holds]

Again I have been lulled into reviewing a book simply because of its lovely photographs. The Smaller Majority provides a visual introduction to some of
our planet’s smaller forms of life — large enough to be photographed with a standard camera, but smaller than a human finger. Naskrecki’s photographs are in full, bursting color, accompanied by sensible captions which note where each photograph was taken. The text is intelligent, providing a brief introduction to each of the different classes of creatures and then a shorter discussion of many of the species pictured.

The Smaller Majority is largely taken up with illustrations and descriptions of insects, but there are also worms, frogs, lizards, and spiders in its pages. Some real wonders are presented — the caecilian, for example, an amphibian which is the dead spit of an earthworm, despite its having a complete skeleton and no true tail (pages 46-47). Another gem is the section of surprisingly beautiful photographs of small insects that have been killed by infestations of fungus (pages 136-37).

The book has three main sections, delineated with helpful colored tabs at the bottom of each page. Most of the book has green tabs, indicating tropical humid forests, but there are shorter sections describing the smaller life forms of savannas (orange) and deserts (gray). The main text is followed by several appendices, including one about photography, a list of resources (organizations and books), and an index to species.


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