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Merde: Excursions in Scientific, Cultural, and Socio-Historical Coprology

Lewin, Ralph A.

33 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0812992512 / ISBN 13: 9780812992519
New Condition: New Soft cover
From Big River Books (Powder Springs, GA, U.S.A.)

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Title: Merde: Excursions in Scientific, Cultural, ...

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:New

About this title


Merde is an unusual (very unusual) and witty investigation into a subject you may always have wondered about--but didn't know quite what to ask.
History, biology, anthropology, culture, animal behavior--all of these are the real subjects of Merde. Why can some animals do it on the run, and others can't? Why does camel dung make good fires? What are the fascinating stories of the dung beetles?
Myths and legends, physical features, health and disease, uses for construction and as fertilizers--even nutritional values!--Ralph Lewin writes about them all in the most ingratiating and sophisticated and yet scientific way. Merde is also full of personal adventures and observations, as well as anecdotes and examples.
The scattered literature on this subject is voluminous, but until now no one has perused and compiled it all and given it a personal touch, so to speak. It will be hard not to talk about this treasure trove of a book after you've finished it--or perhaps even when you're in the middle of it.
From the Hardcover edition.


Ralph Lewin is a marine biologist who knows the value of poop. After all, the denizens of ocean bottoms receive much of their nutrients by eating the expelled waste of animals above. But marine food chains are only one part of this faintly disgusting story. Lewin goes into detail about the minutiae of the subject, from shapes, sizes, colors, smells, and textures of various droppings to the social importance of defecation among different species. He describes how animals deal with it and analyses human attitudes toward the stuff--from production to disposal. And it's all done with a wry sense of humor and a true scientist's curiosity about the world. An entire chapter is devoted to the famous dung beetle:

The beetles clearly treat dung as a valuable commodity, sometimes fighting over choice bits; males of certain species may present prospective mates with small pellets as nuptial offerings.

While Merde is a delightful, informative introduction to an overlooked branch of science, we wouldn't recommend quoting from it at mealtimes. --Therese Littleton

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