Natural History Quotes

Quotes tagged as "natural-history" Showing 1-30 of 33
Edward O. Wilson
“A lifetime can be spent in a Magellanic voyage around the trunk of a single tree.”
E. O. Wilson

Charles Darwin
“When we no longer look at an organic being as a savage looks at a ship, as at something wholly beyond his comprehension; when we regard every production of nature as one which has had a history; when we contemplate every complex structure and instinct as the summing up of many contrivances, each useful to the possessor, nearly in the same way as when we look at any great mechanical invention as the summing up of the labour, the experience, the reason, and even the blunders of numerous workmen; when we thus view each organic being, how far more interesting, I speak from experience, will the study of natural history become!”
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

“In terms of size, mammals are an anomaly, as the vast majority of the world's existing species are snail-sized or smaller. It's almost as if, regardless of your kingdom, the smaller your size & the earlier your place on the tree of life, the more critical is your niche on Earth: snails & worms create soil, & blue-green algae create oxygen; mammals seem comparatively dispensable, the result of the random path of evolution over a luxurious amount of time.”
Elisabeth Tova Bailey, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Nanette L. Avery
“A museum is a place where nothing was lost, just rediscovered…”
Nanette L. Avery

Stephen Jay Gould
“Geology gave us the immensity of time and taught us how little of it our own species has occupied.”
Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History

Richard Fortey
“Museums have no political power, but they do have the possibility of influencing the political process. This is a complete change from their role in the early days of collecting and hoarding the world to one of using the collections as an archive for a changing world. This role is not merely scientifically important, but it is also a cultural necessity.”
Richard Fortey, Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum

Kathleen Jamie
“There was a time—until very recently in the scheme of things—when there were no wild animals, because every animal was wild; and humans were few. Animals, and animal presence over us and around us. Over every horizon, animals. Their skins clothing our skins, their fats in our lamps, their bladders to carry water, meat when we could get it.”
Kathleen Jamie, Sightlines

“Must the interest of life wane for us all as the progress of knowledge curtails the playground of imagination? No doubt it must in some measure, but there is another cause.

I believe that in these days we have too many occupations, too many interests; we know too many things, and, if you will, have too many advantages and facilities. Our faculty of taking an interest is dissipated and frittered away.”
EHA Introduced By Ruskin Bond, A Naturalist On The Prowl

Jo Ann Butler
“Catch on fire with enthusiasm, and people will come for miles to watch you burn”
Jo Ann Butler

Sharman Apt Russell
“I feel the need to fall in love with the world, to forge that relationship ever more strongly. But maybe I don’t have to work so hard. I have thought nature indifferent to humans, to one more human, but maybe the reverse is true. Maybe the world is already in love, giving us these gifts all the time—the glimpse of a fox, tracks in the sand, a breeze, a flower--calling out all the time: take this. And this. And this. Don’t turn away.”
Sharman Apt Russell, Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

Richard Fortey
“I wonder if we are seeing a return to the object in the science-based museum. Since any visitor can go to a film like Jurassic Park and see dinosaurs reawakened more graphically than any museum could emulate, maybe a museum should be the place to have an encounter with the bony truth. Maybe some children have overdosed on simulations on their computers at home and just want to see something solid--a fact of life.”
Richard Fortey, Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum

Aldo Leopold
“The question is, does the educated citizen know he is only a cog in an ecological mechanism? That if he will work with that mechanism his mental wealth and his material wealth can expand indefinitely? But that if he refuses to work with it, it will ultimately grind him to dust? If education does not teach us these things, then what is education for?”
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac; with essays on conservation from Round River

Stephen Jay Gould
“Astronomy defined our home as a small planet tucked away in one corner of an average galaxy among million; biology took away our status as paragons created in the image of God; geology gave us the immensity of time and taught us how little of it our own species has occupied.”
Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History

Ernst W. Mayr
“Truly, Buffon was the father of all thought in natural history in the second half of the 18th century.”
Ernst Mayr

“It is hypocritical to exhort the Brazilians to conserve their rainforest after we have already destroyed the grassland ecosystem that occupied half the continent when we found it. A large-scale grassland restoration project would give us some moral authority when we seek conservation abroad.

I must admit that I also like the idea because it would mean a better home for pronghorn, currently pushed by agriculture into marginal habitats-The high sagebrush deserts of the West. I would love to return the speedsters to their evolutionary home, the Floor of the Sky. Imagine a huge national reserve where anyone could see what caused Lewis and Clark to write with such enthusiasm in their journals-the sea of grass and flowers dotted with massive herds of bison, accompanied by the dainty speedsters and by great herds of elk. Grizzly bears and wolves would patrol the margins of the herds and coyotes would at last be reduced to their proper place. The song of the meadowlarks would pervade the prairie and near water the spring air would ring with the eerie tremolos of snipe.”
John A. Byers, Built for Speed: A Year in the Life of Pronghorn

“He who calls what has vanished back again into being, enjoys a bliss like that of creating.”
Barthold Neibuhr

Bill Schutt
“There is no definitive answer as to why cannibalism provides us with such stimulation, although what is clear, and what remains extremely disturbing for me, is our increasing desensitization to violence and gore - a trait that does not bode well for the future.”
Bill Schutt, Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History

Lawrence Millman
“Another day I walked out of town to do a bit of climbing in the mountains behind the airport. I scrambled up and down slopes that contained some of the oldest rocks in the world, isotope-dated at 3,800 billion years, remnants, so the geological rumor goes, of the earth's earliest terrestrial crust.”
Lawrence Millman, Last Places: A Journey in the North

Ernest Vincent Wright
“It is curious why anybody should pooh-pooh a study of fossils or various forms of rocks or lava. Such things grant us our only vision into Natural History’s big book; and it isn't a book in first-class condition. Far from it! Just a tiny scrap; a slip; or, possibly a big chunk is found, with nothing notifying us as to how it got to that particular point, nor how long ago. Man can only look at it, lift it, rap it, cut into it, and squint at it through a magnifying glass. And,— think about it. That’s all; until a formal study brings accompanying thoughts from many minds; and, by such tactics, judging that in all probability such and such a rock or fossil footprint is about so old. Natural History holds you in its grasp through just this impossibility of finding actual facts; for it is thus causing you to think. Now, thinking is not only a voluntary function; it is an acquisition; an art. Plants do not think. Animals probably do, but in a primary way, such as an aid in knowing poisonous foods, and how to bring up an offspring with similar ability. But Man can, and should think, and think hard and constantly. It is ridiculous to rush blindly into an action without looking forward to lay out a plan. Such an unthinking custom is almost a panic, and panic is but a mild form of insanity”
Ernest Vincent Wright, Gadsby

Alexis Carrel
“A tissue is evidently an enduring thing. It's functional and structural conditions become modified from moment to moment. Time is really the fourth dimension of living organisms. It enters as part into the constitution of a tissue. Cell colonies, or organs, are events which progressively unfold themselves. They must be studied like history.”
Alexis Carrel

Aldo Leopold
“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes”
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

“In the 1940s and 1950s, the study of natural history--an intimate science predicated on the time-consuming collection and naming of life-forms--gave way to microbiology, theoretical and commercial. Much the same thing happened to the conservation movement, which shifted from local preservationists with soil on their shoes to environmental lawyers in Washington, D.C.”
Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Richard Fortey
“Every new discovery about the genome is consistent with evolution having happened. Whether we find it appealing or not is another question, but personally I like being fourth cousin to a mushroom and having a bonobo as my closest living relative. It makes me feel a real part of the world.”
Richard Fortey, Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum

Witold Rybczynski
“A chair is the first thing you need when you don't really need anything and is, therefore, a particularly compelling symbol of civilisation. (Attributed to Ralph Caplan)”
Witold Rybczynski, Now I Sit Me Down: From Klismos to Plastic Chair: A Natural History

Pliny the Elder
“The greatest value among the objects of human property, not only among precious stones, is due to the diamond, for a long time known only to kings and even to very few of these.”
Pliny the Elder

Kate Morton
“Every Saturday morning and Thursday afternoon, Miss Radcliffe would lead them on a brisk walk across country, sometimes for hours at a time, through muddy fields and flowing streams, over hills and into woods. Sometimes they bicycled farther afield, to Uffington to see the White Horse or Barbury to climb the Iron Age hill fort or even on occasion as far as the Avebury stone circle. They became quite expert at spotting the round hollows Miss Radcliffe referred to as "dew ponds": they were made by prehistoric people, she said, in order to ensure that they always had sufficient water to drink. According to Miss Radcliffe, there were signs of ancient communities everywhere, if one only knew where to look.
Even the woods behind the school were filled with secrets from the past: Miss Radcliffe had shown them beyond the clearing to a small hill she called the "dragon mound." "There is every possibility that this was an Anglo-Saxon burial site," she'd said, going on to explain that it was so named because the Anglo-Saxons believed that dragons watched over their treasure. "Of course, the Celts would have disagreed. They would have called this a fairy mound and said beneath it lay the entrance to fairyland.”
Kate Morton, The Clockmaker's Daughter

Kate Morton
“I believe in science, Mr. Gilbert. But one of my first loves was natural history. The earth is ancient and it is vast and there is much that we do not yet comprehend. I refuse to accept that science and magic are opposed; they are both valid attempts to understand the way our world works.”
Kate Morton, The Clockmaker's Daughter

“This means that food is always in the here an now; it is everywhere and nowhere. Yet every time people eat the pliant flesh of salmon they are tasting evolution, natural history and deep time. Indeed, salmon's evolutionary, natural and life histories turned what might have otherwise been a common fish into one of the handful of most important sources of marine-derived fats and proteins the world has ever known.”
Nicholaas Mink

Delia Owens
“Now in her hands, the final copy- every brushstroke, every carefully thought-out color, every word of the natural histories, printed in a book. There were also drawings of the creatures who live inside- how they eat, how they move, how they mate- because people forget about creatures who live in shells.
She touched the pages and remembered each shell and the story of finding it, where it lay on the beach, the season, the sunrise. A family album.”
Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

“The materially reconstructed animal is immune to pain, free from our ability to inflict upon it (further) mental or physical cruelty or violence. Any guilt or concern about the animal's welfare - its confinement, its isolation from its own kind's social structures, and the enforced company of humans - troubles us no longer; the animal is "at rest," while simultaneously prepared to be continually at our behest. Modeled in glass, its eyes are incapable of any disturbingly accusatory stare.”
Geoffrey N. Swinney

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