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Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine Hardcover – October 31, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Relics is an exciting, adventure-filled, and scientifically important presentation by one of the world's best naturalists and photographers."
(E. O. Wilson)

"Piotr Naskrecki's new book is not easy to read. Physically, I mean. I have wanted to review this book for some time. After all, Piotr Naskrecki is a leading conservation photographer and katydid biologist, and I loved Naskrecki’s last book.



But I had to concentrate hard to stay focused on the text. The trouble is Relics comprises page after page of the most jaw-droppingly spectacular nature photography you’ve ever seen. No matter how compelling Naskrecki's prose, no matter how insightful his observations or unexpectedly charming his facts, his words reluctantly share pages with his starkly beautiful images of life with all its teeth and colors and scales and spiny legs. Spiders that look like floppy muppets. Crickets with edible wings. Expectant frog fathers. Killer katydids. Oh, and something called a 'Dinospider.' Yeah."--Alex Wild, Scientific American

(Alex Wild Scientific American)

"Relics is bursting with excitement. . . . Naskrecki is a solid scientists, a talented photographer, and a writer to emulate--this is the whole package in a book with a killer cover to boot."
(Bookslut)

"Embedded in this showcase book of exotic plants and animals is a plea to preserve what's left of the planet's evolutionary history."
(Seattle Times)

About the Author

Piotr Naskrecki is an entomologist and a research associate with the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He is the author of The Smaller Majority.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (October 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226568709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226568706
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #870,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Piotr (Peter) Naskrecki is a Polish-born entomologist, photographer and author, currently at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, USA.) His research focuses on the evolution of sound-producing insects, and the theory and practice of nature conservation.

As a writer, Piotr strives to promote appreciation and conservation of invertebrate animals - insects, arachnids, and their kin - by capturing both their beauty and roles as vital, often critically important members of the Earth's ecosystems. He is the author of over 30 scientific, peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, and his photographs and nature writing have been published in a number of national and international publications, including The Smithsonian Magazine, Natural History, National Wildlife, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife Magazine, BBC Knowledge, Terre Sauvage, Time magazine, Ranger Rick, and many others.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
`Relics' can be an absolute education and for just the photographs alone can create an interest in the very young who enjoy the "creepy" realism. Those captivated by biology and in nature would appreciate the concentrated information given in the text.
The photos are done in splendid colour with exquisite close-ups. In a sense they are not what one could call beautiful, but they are superb in their intensity and realism that pops off of the page. The photographs are more daunting in some instances than any Hollywood special effects or make-up person could dream of creating.
Among the subjects covered are; the unexpected in New Guinea, travels in New Zealand, a mother's care, South Africa, the rain queen's garden, Atewa, Guiana shield, Notoptera, the ocean, in the sagebrush and the Estabrook Woods.
Most amazing is the section on the Atlantic horseshoe crab on the New Jersey shore. These pictures of the horseshoe crabs emerging from and in the surf are some of the most astonishing naturalist photos I have seen in my life.

The information in the text covers the natural world in these remarkable spots...the arachnids that can be traced back 300 million years and not to be forgotten amongst all of the living creatures is the ginkgo.
There are interesting notes at the end of the book to give more information and a detailed index. This is both a coffee table book and a text on the living fossils and natural surroundings of the wilds of this earth.

This is a book for even the young - potential biologists and naturalists and of course anyone else interested in that world or the realms of naturalist photography.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rob Sheppard on October 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a great fan of Piotr's work. He is one of the finest photographers of insects working today. His small critter photography (more than just insects) goes way beyond simply recording interesting critters. He makes them come alive and part of a larger environment. His photos often show the ecology of a situation beyond simply a portrait of the animal. The text is very interesting, though a bit academic (which is somewhat surprising because Piotr is a very funny guy when you hear him speak -- he seems to be trying hard to be the scientist rather than letting that part of his personality into the book).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Taylor McNeil on August 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Want to know what creatures looked like millions of years ago? No, you don't have to examine fossils: you can see their living descendants, often in exotic locales, but some really close by. Piotr Nastrecki shows us in his book "Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine," with its astounding photos of ancient animals and plants. Relatives of these creatures and plants are found in the fossil record dating back more than 500 million years ago. They discovered their niche and were adaptable enough to survive all that nature could throw at them: ice ages, drought, cataclysms of earth-shattering proportions (think meteors slamming into earth and wiping out 95 percent of all living matter)--you name it. Take the lowly horseshoe crab. They have been coming out of the ocean to lay eggs on the beach for 100 million years, give or take a few; Naskrecki photographs them in the Delaware Bay with the eye of an artist, and tells their story, like all the others here, in deft prose.

He travels the globe to document these critters and plants, from the deserts of Namibia and jungles of Guyana to the lush lands of New Zealand, and even to suburban Boston. That latter is the subject of his chapter "A Walk in the Estabrook Woods," in which he documents a wide diversity of life in this nature preserve in Concord. What really stood out for me here were his amazing photos of tiny fairy shrimp cavorting in a shallow vernal pool, whose ancestors sprang up in the Cambrian Period more than 500 million years ago. They emerge from dormant eggs in spring, and quietly reproduce and lay eggs before the vernal pools dry up as summer approaches. Some eggs lay dormant for multiple seasons, meaning extended drought can't cut their genetic line off.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jack Olver on June 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The photographs are brilliant and the writing takes you into the author's world. Many of the creatures and locales examined in this book will soon be gone from the Earth. In some cases Mr. Naskrecki's work may be the only popularly accessible record of them. If you love the Earth and the magnificent diversity of life that has sprung from it you will return to this book many times through the years.
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Format: Hardcover
When I started reading about A Plague of Rats and Rubbervines, I found many predatory traits that were useful for thinking about economics as a global subprime credit default problem in search of endless refinancing, but the tremendous amount of species loss was depressing. The book Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine (2011) has an individual story about seeking insects in places with old habitats that can have all the problems New Zealand encountered as settlers from Europe attempted to create the kind of life that makes sense to those who have been regimented for a uniform existence within the fur trading global economy, but it has stunning pictures that you never saw before. The Plague book did not have pictures, and few people read books that have pictures like Relics. Some insects are flat so they can squeeze between leaves all the way to the stem of the plants they feed upon. An ant with big mandibles can jump by putting its head down to the ground and slamming its jaws shut. A mother insect nurses nymphs until they are old enough to eat the natural leaves that have to be chewed. Tree frogs keep eggs moist until the tadpoles in the eggs turn into tiny frogs. Some insects lay eggs and then bring them back into the insect abdomen until the eggs hatch so it looks like the insect has a live birth.

Part of the world with unusual plants is now part of a plantation that only grows what brings in the money. New Zealand broke away from the land mass quite recently in my sceme for understanding how the earth has been shifting and shuffling. Something like a reptile has eggs that will all hatch as males because of temperature increasing on a remote island where they live unless people can figure out how to air condition the eggs to produce some females when the world gets so warm it becomes skewed in favor of those who don't lay eggs.
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