Fascinating and disgusting - Roach has the corner on this market! I learned several tidbits and interesting facts... although not necessarily ones toFascinating and disgusting - Roach has the corner on this market! I learned several tidbits and interesting facts... although not necessarily ones to share in polite company at the dinner table!...more
Primates is an ambitious book that largely succeeds at giving a "slice of life" look to three amazing scientists and their contributions to primatologPrimates is an ambitious book that largely succeeds at giving a "slice of life" look to three amazing scientists and their contributions to primatology.
Birute Galdikas, Jane Goodall, and Dian Fossey in the field
I was familiar with Goodall and Fossey, but I confess to have never read about Galdikas, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about her work here. Each of these women were selected by Dr. Louis Leakey, premier anthropologist to study and observe in the field. Goodall and Fossey had no formal training when they began working with Leakey, and he liked it that way - not being bogged down with jargon and method, but a clear view of primate study.
Nuance and development are hard to bring in a graphic form - subtleties and glances, and general "feelings", but author Ottaviani and illustrator Wicks perform some spectacular character development of the three "Trimate" scientists, and their sponsor/benefactor Leakey here. Leakey comes across both lecherous and generous: he recruits young women and there are implied relationships - and then works to get funding and sponsorships for each woman to do their fieldwork unimpeded. He believes that women's keen observation skills work well in the field, and with Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas - he sponsors their PhD education at Cambridge University.
Each woman is profiled as they begin their studies - Goodall with the chimpanzees in Tanzania, Fossey with the gorillas in Rwanda, and Galdikas with the orangutans in Indonesia - setting up camp, establishing patterns in the primate populations, and slowly getting deeper into the primate society.
The cartoon illustrations may lead people to think this is geared to a young audience (and it could be read and understood by 10+). The design and style was well though-out. Some of the interactions between the three scientists could have been confusing, but the illustrator made note to change the fonts for each: Goodall gets a curvy cursive, Fossey gets a serif typewriter font, and Galdikas gets a block script.
The format does limit any true detail, but this book is meant to give you an amuse-bouche, so the reader can get a cursory glance at each scientist, and follow up with the provided bibliography for many more details later.
It worked on me. I want to read more about these extraordinary women now!
-- 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge - a non-superhero comic ...more
Why do some pathogens provoke yawns while others trigger panic?
Is it too much faith in medicine? Is it first-world arrogance? Is it the difference beWhy do some pathogens provoke yawns while others trigger panic?
Is it too much faith in medicine? Is it first-world arrogance? Is it the difference between vector-borne pathogens versus airborne or blood-borne? All of the above?
Shah manages to answer and analyze these kinds of questions while expertly retracing pandemics of the past centuries, and foretelling the ones of the future. Through her research and writing, it becomes clear how very delicate this balance is - the one that we created to shield ourselves from disease and pestilence. The re-emergence of diseases that have been dormant (or underreported) for decades is of particular interest. She specifically looks at cholera - a bacteria that never went away - but was fought back by modern sanitation and public works. However, the balance was thrown in Haiti after the earthquake of 2010, and it's epidemic status is now endemic.
Vibrio cholarae - Cholera bacterium
Cholera's fascinating - and devastating - history is retold here (also read in Johnson's The Ghost Map: ) with some new details and context. Shah also delves into the recent pandemics caused by zoonosis - infectious diseases in animals that have spilled over into human populations. These are familiar newsmakers in recent years: swine flu, West Nile, SARS. She travels to Guangzhou province of China, the birthplace of SARS and witnesses the very same (now illegal) trade at "wet markets" that made SARS a household world. She briefly traces the phenomenon of medical tourism - traveling to other countries for expensive medical treatments - and the unique risks involved with "superbugs" and antibiotic resistant strains of bacterial pathogens that are then brought back to the traveler's home country. She even shares her own family's reoccurring struggle with MRSA after a seemingly innocuous cut on her son's knee.
The structure of the narrative is likely it's strongest point. Shah uses lenses for each chapter - "Locomotion", "Filth", "Crowds", etc. in which to view the pandemics. How was disease *helped* by locomotion and by crowds? With the wealth of historical data, early industrial New York is the case study. Booming industry, steady stream of immigrants from other countries, and from rural US areas, coming together in extremely close quarters (some of the statistics she states are mind-blowing - people packed in like sardines) and THIS is where pandemics bloomed. In the historical context (and still very much still today as we are seeing with unfolding details about Zika in Latin America) her lens of "Corruption" and its role in pandemics: the Manhattan Company and their active role in groundwater pollution and the cholera outbreaks of the 19th century.
Collect Pond in lower Manhattan - Five Points slum
Shah's final chapter is a call to action, but also to that of information and education.
The One Health movement... argues that human health is linked to the health of wildlife, livestock, and the ecosystem.
Modern farming and livestock conditions, both in the West and the East - comparable in so many ways to the tenements in developing world countries where disease is rife, and in NYC during the cholera outbreaks in the 19th century - could very well be the point of spillover to human populations.
Yes, the book may scare you - wash your hands more, clean and disinfect open wounds, clean up after yourself and your pets (and then wash your hands again!) - but it is truly one of education and knowledge.
Read for Book Riot's 2016 Read Harder Challenge - Science...more
Two years ago this month was the worst outbreak of Ebola in known human history. What made the 2014 outbreak so different? Ebola has been documented sTwo years ago this month was the worst outbreak of Ebola in known human history. What made the 2014 outbreak so different? Ebola has been documented since 1976 (and undoubtedly there were decades of cases before, left unrecorded), specifically affecting small villages throughout central Africa. This time, Ebola made its way into urban centers, bringing the exposure and casualties much higher.
This book, excerpted from Quammen's larger work Spillover, and updated to include info about the 2014 outbreak, gives a 'boots on the ground' version of the scientists who are working to fight and prevent another outbreak. The search for the reservoir species is of particular importance: where is Ebola living while not spreading into other species / lying dormant? Countless animals have been tested, and while the silver bullet of a 'live virus inside a species' has not been discovered yet, Quammen and many researchers believe Ebola lives in certain species of bats (edited to add: researched this more and WHO's website says that it has not been truly discovered yet, but bats are suspected) who then feed on fruit, infecting it with saliva and guano, in turn infecting primates who also eat these fruits and/or bats, and come into contact with droppings (or humans who eat bush meat of monkeys who ate the fruit...) The link to bats is further bolstered by the discovery that a similar filovirus, Marburg virus, lives inside this specific species of bat in Central Africa.
Quammen's analysis and storytelling are top notch - fascinating and high caliber science writing.