An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles
Photographs by Lisa Charles Watson
An Atlas beetle (Chalcosoma Caucasus)
Just how many kinds of beetles there are nobody knows. Estimates range from 350,000 to over 8 million species of beetles. They represent, in themselves, an amazing 25% of all known animals including other insects, mammals, reptiles, birds, mollusks, coral, worms, sea anemones on the face of the Earth today. If success is measured by numbers, they are the most successful animals to have ever lived.
The sheer number of beetles is echoed in their ecological diversity. Their habitats stretch from the arctic to the equator, from the alpine to the desert, from the subterranean to the arboreal, and from the terrestrial to the marine. Their sizes range from microscopic to that of a box turtle a range greater than that between the smallest mammal, a shrew, and the largest, a blue whale. Their variety of colors and shape is unsurpassed in the animal kingdom.
The question arises, and this is the central theme of An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles, what is the source of this unparalleled biodiveristy? Why are there so many different kinds of beetles in such overwhelming numbers, living in so many places?
Tropical Golianthine Scarab beetles.
Charles L. Bellamy, D.Sc., is a senior curator in the Department of Coleop-tera at the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria, South Africa. Considered one of the worlds leading authorities on jewel beetles, he has traveled extensively throughout the world in search of clues to their evolutionary development.
Lisa Charles Watson is an award-winning photographer who lives in New York City
This adoring tribute to beetles seeks to answer...what
makes these animals so persistent in nature and prevalent in history
The authors state their primary target
is a general audience, and they hope to instill in it a greater appreciation
for beetles and the scientists who study them. The target was well hit....This
book is for the layperson, the amateur, or the professional entomologist....Their
treatment, which provides the reader with the potential for a deep under-standing
and appreciation, is nothing short of admirable. I highly recommend this
reasonably priced book, especially for anyone with an 'inordinate fondness
Beetles rarely elicit from us feelings
of sympathy we easily afford cute and cuddly vertebrates the authors
lament. So they have advanced an agenda of beetlephilia, a
scientific appreciation of the importance of beetles to the global eco-system
and a personal feeling that, by gosh, beetles sure are fascinating. The
playful artistic photographs give the books facts and figures a rare visual
grounding...a swift, unforgettable lesson in the almost magical efficiency
of beetle anatomy.
An authoritative reference volume resplendently
illustrated with line drawings and color photographs.
Central American Dung beetle
A bug-lovers bible.
[In] this magnificent volume, written by two leading
coleopterists, . . .the pages are large (9 x 11 inches), and the first
thing one notices are the beautiful color plates. These photographs .
. . are of outstanding quality. It would seem impossible to improve upon
the color, clarity, and sharpness of focus of these plates.
These two scientists not only display some of the
most spectacular specimens, but also give fascinating accounts of the
strange life cycles and morphologies of these often ignored arthropods.
A beautiful and thorough look at the entire realm of beetles
including the locales in which they are found, history, anatomy and physiology,
and their relationships with humans. The incredible full-color photographs
bring readers up close
[to] the seemingly infinite variations within
In the title, apocryphally ascribed to the great scientist
J. B. S. Haldane, God is allegedly the one fond of beetles, because He
created so many varieties of them. Ordinary mortals like them, too, and
Evans and Bellamy have written this colorful bestiary for them. The variety
of the little buggers (and some are not so little) is astounding and reflects
their evolutionary success in every land environment over the past 240
million years. Visually they can be stunningly jewel-like, a facet of
attraction beautifully illustrated in about 100 color plates. The text
tightens the pictures to an understanding of beetles' anatomy, possible
evolutionary history, behavior, and adaptation strategies. The graphic
design helps induce this strong picture-word connection: one never need
search around for a photo's pertinent text; biological terms are in boldface;
headings are in red
. Numerous line drawings further strengthen the
impression this resource makes; and whether students or collectors, its
users will be well launched into coleopterology.
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