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Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist

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9781553655275: Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist
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Snakebit traces the author’s journey from a childhood fascination with snakes and amphibians, through academic flirtation, to professional association with some of the world’s greatest herpetologists. It leads the reader through desert, swamp, jungle, and lab to reveal the strange world of these cryptic creatures and the often stranger fraternity that pursues them. Both celebrating and sending up the science and philosophy surrounding what surely seems insanity to some, Snakebit is packed with personalities, history, geography, culture, and an eclectic mix of locales.

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About the Author:

Leslie Anthony is an avid adventurer who has won awards for his poetry and is acclaimed for his work in outdoor, action sport, and general-interest magazines such as Skier, Equinox, explore, and Powder. He also holds a PhD in zoology from the University of Toronto and was a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University's Redpath Museum. The author of Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist and White Planet: A Mad Dash through Modern Global Ski Culture, he lives in Whistler, BC.

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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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