A Desert Bestiary: Folklore, Literature, and Ecological by Gregory McNamee

By Gregory McNamee

Following the version of the medieval Latin bestiaries, Gregory McNamee has written a publication right away naturalistic, folkloristic, and literary, made of brief essays on forty-three animals of the world’s deserts. those essays talk about the creatures as they're and as they're imagined, and produce their ordinary lives and histories vividly to the web page.

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Extra info for A Desert Bestiary: Folklore, Literature, and Ecological Thought from the World's Dry Places

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These lie in the so-called horse latitudes, where constant high-pressure systems separate the westerlies and trade winds, driving away the rain clouds, swirling above the earth to the music of global temperature variations and the Coriolis effect produced by the earth's rotation in space. Some of those drylands, like the Atacama of Chile, the Namib and Kalahari deserts of southern Africa, and the western Australian desert, are the result of cold oceanic currents that divert rain-laden air away from coastlines.

The Zulu kings pointed to the example of the ants, especially the weaver (Oecophylla longinoda), whose tent-like colonies spread over dozens of baobab trees at a time and number half a million individuals governed by a single monarch, as models of social organization. " Yet those who see in social-insect societies a model for human societies, as some lesser advocates of sociobiology have suggested, should beware. As Arnold Toynbee writes, "insect societies and Utopias are both patently in a state of arrested development," and we have little to learn from either if we are to live as humans in the world.

This would, I think, tend to prejudice a person against ants, but the inhabitants of Arnhem Land seem not to hold the sorcery against the insects. The entomologist Justin 0. Schmidt has concocted a rating scale for the bites of various venomous insects and reptiles. By that scale, the bite of a fire ant is akin to a mild shock of static electricity, that of the harvester ant somewhat more severe, as if someone were using a power drill to excavate a painfully ingrown toenail, and that of a bullet ant even more fierce, the equivalent of walking over coals with a heelful of iron nails.

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