Susan's Reviews > Stalking the Plumed Serpent and Other Adventures in Herpetology

Stalking the Plumed Serpent and Other Adventures in Herpetology by D. Bruce Means
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's review
Feb 10, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: animals, nonfiction, read-in-2009, library-books, autobiography, library-books-i-wish-i-owned, nature
Read in February, 2009

I just finished reading Stalking the Plumed Serpent and Other Adventures in Herpetology, and it was fan-freakin'-tastic! Based on more than 40 years of field research, it seems like Dr. D. Bruce Means has seen it all. He dedicates his book "to the unbroken chain of reproduction that led from the beginning of life to [him:]... not to the individual organisms that never missed a mating, but to the proliferating deoxyribonucleaic acid (DNA) that began as pond scum or sea soup and eventually created [him:], and everything else alive today."

Included in this volume are 22 stories of his travels throughout the world, to study all things creepy and crawly. Some of the highlights include being "chased" by a cottonmouth, wrestling with an 85-pound alligator snapping turtle 20 feet deep in the Apalachicola river, and driving down a remote Australian road with a 6-foot coastal taipan wrapped around his left arm. Means also writes of "stalking the plumed serpent" in the Yucatán Peninsula - trying to discover the roots of Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl in Mayan legends, and searching for the origin of the rainbow serpent legends of Australia.

It's not all about the herps though - Bruce Means writes about the biodiversity all around him wherever he is. There is information on the cotton rat - "the base of the food web" - living in blackberry patches; in Madagascar, Means writes of lemurs and aye-ayes among chameleons, tomato frogs and baobab trees; and there is even a story of of standing on the slopes of an erupting volcano, when searching for the bushmaster in South America.

The best thing about the book is Means' voice. With every word, in every chapter, the reader truly understands the overall ecological message in the book:

"All life is equal in terms of its long evolutionary path to the present. All living things got here the same way that we did. All living things, therefore, have as much right to live on the planet as we do."

The future of the biodiversity of the planet is in our hands, and if we don't do what we can to save the creatures we share the earth with, we will doom ourselves to their fate.

Dr. Bruce Means is President and Executive Director of the Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy, a nonprofit organization he and others founded in 1984 that is dedicated to conserving the rich biodiversity - and elevating public awareness and appreciation - of the vast Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States. He is an Adjunct Professor of Biological Science at Florida State University where he has taught courses the ecology of upland, wetland, and coastal environments of the southeastern U. S. and courses on vertebrate biology, ichthyology, mammalogy, herpetology, general biology, tropical ecology, and conservation biology.

His research includes a wide variety of topics ranging from ecosystems of the southeastern U. S. to fire ecology, the natural history of South American tepuis, biogeography, conservation, endangered species, and the evolution and natural history of amphibians and reptiles. He has published more than 235 scientific articles, technical reports, and popular articles on his research in National Wildlife, International Wildlife, Natural History, BBC Wildlife, National Geographic, Fauna, South American Explorer, and other magazines. His books include two on the ecology of Florida and Herpetophilia, Love of Creeping, Crawling Things and of course Stalking the Plumed Serpent and Other Adventures in Herpetology.

From 1998 to the present, he and his research have been featured in documentary films for National Geographic Television (King Rattler; Quest for the Rainbow Serpent; Into the Lost World; Saving the King of Snakes; Diamondback Survivors, etc.), BBC Television, and PBS. Bruce Means lives in Tallahassee and relishes his time in the woodlands, swamps, and bogs of the Florida Panhandle—and making expeditions into the vast wilderness of northeastern South America

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Reading Progress

02/19/2009 page 13
02/20/2009 page 38
15.97% "This is a really great book!"

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