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Alligators: Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscapeby Martha A Strawn
Synopses & Reviews
I ran as fast as I could toward the banana trees with the gator right behind me, gaining on me with every step. Her jaws popping together sounded like a door slamming. I reached the first banana tree just ahead of the gator and climbed right up it like it had stairs... I had climbed up about ten or twelve feet and I was slipping back down, so I made a desperate effort and managed to get my hands into the base of the leaves. Just as I thought I might be safe, the tree started falling over. — LeRoy Overstreet, Memories of Gator Hunts, from Alligators, Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscape
During the past nine years, photographer Martha Strawn has taken more than 40,000 photographs of the alligator--in freshwater marshes and swamps, lakes and ponds, rivers, bayous, brackish estuaries, and saltwater coastal marshes and backwaters, from Texas to North Carolina. Alligators, Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscape offers a selection of 151 of Strawn's photographs in a unique book that combines art, science, history, folklore, land ethics, and literature to tell the story of America's southern landscape and one of its most evocative creatures.
For at least 65 million years, the alligator has inhabited the North American continent. One of the few direct links to the age of the dinosaur, these ancient reptiles move gracefully through water but are relatively awkward on land (though they can charge aggressively if threatened). Strawn photographs these remarkable creatures along the white sands of the Florida landscape and the highways of Louisiana Cajun country, in citrus and avocado groves, and in developments throughout the suburban South. Here are the wetlands anddeepwaters where alligators feed, bask in the sun, perform courtship dances, mate, nest, watch over their young--and, increasingly, encounter the human inhabitants of their ancient landscape.
Strawn covers such topics as mating and reproduction, hunting, loss of habitat, resource management, and the commercial meat and skin industries. Three personal essays bring home the relationship between alligators and humans: Memories of Gator Hunts, by alligator hunter LeRoy Overstreet; Living by the Wetlands, by Jane Gibson, a conservation anthropologist; and Living with Alligators, by ecologist J. Whitfield Gibbons. These stories give voice to the people — hunters, alligator farmers, meat and skin processors, scientists, and wildlife managers — who spend their days and nights with this noble member of the order Crocodilia.
When human beings and alligators live together in one habitat, each benefiting from the association, they are living in a state of mutuality. The benefits may be both physiological and behavioral. Establishing conditions that promote such relationships between two species can be of great value.--from Alligators, A Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscape
Includes bibliographical references (p. 217-219) and index.
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