Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist

Leslie Anthony, Author
Leslie Anthony, Author Greystone Books $27.95 (292p) ISBN 978-1-55365-236-6
Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-1-55365-527-5
Ebook - 305 pages - 978-1-926685-39-7
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Part memoir, part sociological investigation of herpetologist culture, Anthony explores what it means to be ""snakebit"" from a young age, having collected his first garter snake at age six, in the suburbs of Ontario. Chapters describe the adventures of the herpetology Ph.D.-turned-nature writer, including trips into the field to go ""herping,"" Anthony's made-up term for ""tromping around outdoors looking for reptiles."" Focusing on his student days at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and Montreal's Redpath Museum, Anthony details his education and the ecological role of reptiles through time. A late chapter about a New Orleans convention of herpetologists and ichthyologists includes discussing of new research on deformed amphibians and current, baffling reptile extinctions. He also looks at taxonomic issues, fossil evidence behind reptilian evolution, and how the evolutionary relationships among birds, dinosaurs and crocodiles (all descended from the same ancient tetrapods) remain unexplained. As Anthony joins scientists in the field, his old passions frequently draw him out of his reporter role, happily landing him (and readers) back in the thick of things, collecting vipers in Armenia or king cobras in Vietnam. Unfortunately, this thorough, informative look at a fascinating field is often marred by prose as purple as an Amazonian snail-eater.
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