I can easily come to like a publisher who makes efforts to keep important and/or interesting works in print. So I have to praise Fitzgerald Publishing for making available both this work, originally published by University Press, Mississippi in 1980, and the highly enjoyable “Tarantulas” by William Baerg.
Though this book makes no claim to be an introduction to scorpion biology it adequately serves that purpose in its first few chapters. This introduction is ably assisted by the general information given on the various species covered by the work.
The main body of this work is a series of reports on the distribution, toxicity and identification of 20 of the species most dangerous to man. These reports include the results of tests on rates as well as records of reported stings and percentage deaths.
Most scorpions are relatively harmless animals with a tendency to remain unobserved because of their predilection for hiding during the day and foraging at night. Two groups of scorpions have come to the notice of mankind in general, thought they are not always distinguished between. These are those which cause severe pain and or death in humans with their stings and those which are large and impressive enough to have become part of the pet trade. Though these two groups do not generally overlap both are looked at here by Keegan who adds information on the genera Heterometrus, Hadrurus and Pandinus to that more in harmony with the title on the genera Leiurus, Androctorus, Buthotus, Buthus, Parabuthus, Tityus and Centruroides. All the major species are illustrated with a wonderful set of b/w drawings showing the important taxonomic structures in clear detail.
Contains the following chapters: Scorpion Morphology and Biology; Geographic Distribution of Dangerously Venomous Scorpions; Clinical Aspects of Scorpion Envenomation; Scorpion Control and Prevention of Scorpion Sting; Classification of Scorpions; Accounts of Genera and Species; Subject Index; Author Index. The references for each chapters are done separately at the end of the chapter concerned.
This is obviously a valuable book to both those interested in scorpion biology and those with a more medical interest in these unusual animals.
The Tarantula by William J Baerg
This is a re-release of the 1958 book of the same title and by the same author. The book was originally, and has for some time, been considered a classic of its genera. It is not rewritten in anyway, which though I think this is a good thing, does mean the taxonomy is a bit outdated. Although this problem is neatly overcome by the publishers addition of a species name update at the beginning of the work. It is also well to remember that a lot has been learned in the 40 years since this book was originally published and if Baerg was writing it now he would probably write a much more complete work. This is particularly evident in his comments on the role of injected venom.
This is however a classic piece of writing, enjoyable to read from cover to cover and will in its gently way put flesh onto the bones of your love for you tarantula. It is not a treatise on keeping tarantulas as pets, Baerg exhibits a practical common sense view of rearing and keeping tarantulas that is a pleasure to read. It is a summation of all that was really known about the ecology and natural life of these amazing animals. Written by a man with a true love of his subject, a man capable of letting at least a dozen different species bite him just to test the strength of their venom. It is a book I would heartily recommend to any novice tarantula owner or anyone else interested in spiders who has not yet had the pleasure of its company.
Contents include: Introduction; Distribution; Seasonal History; Life of the Female Tarantula; Life of the Male; the Mating Act; Natural Enemies of the Tarantula; Self Defence; In Quest of Tarantulas Elsewhere; How Poisonous are Tarantulas; Some Laboratory Studies of the Poison; Of What Use Are Tarantulas; References; Index.
This is the largest and most comprehensive book on these wonderful and mostly harmless animals which has yet been published. It is the second part of a proposed six part series covering all the spiders commonly referred to as tarantulas, (part one, Baboon Spiders; Tarantulas of Africa and the Middle East) by the same author, was released by the same publishers in 1990.
Firstly it is the most up to date and currently used taxonomic work on these spiders, and includes well illustrated keys to species, and a full description for each species covered. Secondly it contains 3 chapters totalling 18 pages between them of incidental information. The first deals with past arachnologist, and includes a number of B/W photos, personally I think this is a great idea and wish more works contained such information. The second deals mythology, both European, dealing with the origins of the name tarantula, and 'tarantism', and North American dealing with the spiders themselves i.e. 'Spider Woman' or 'Old Mother Tarantula' . The third is an excellent description of tarantula life history, with interesting comparisons of data from field studies and laboratory based studies.
I would highly recommend this book as value for money for anyone who has an interest in these spiders.
This is an excellent book containing information on the 6 genera (Bacillus, Clonopsis, Leptynia, Ramulus, Acanthyloxa, and Clitarchus) and 20+ species which inhabit the area. It contains well illustrated keys to genera and to the 15+ commonest species, as well as in depth descriptions of the habitat, food plants, life history and distribution of these species. It also contains smaller amounts of information on a number of less common species which may be found by the dilligent searcher. It includes important information on, inlcuding descriptions of, 7 new species of Bacillus by far the most prolific genus in the region.
Paul Brock is one of the major forces in the Phasmid world and this book, though not maybe as essential reading as his 'Rearing and Studying Stick and Leaf Insects' (published by the AES), is still a worthy addition to any library and I would highly recommend it to schools in the area covered by it, as Stick Insects, particularly local ones, make excellent teaching aids
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