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1 Beaverton Nature Studies- Reptiles and Amphibians

Mean and Lowly Things: Snakes, Science, and Survival in the Congo

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Mean and Lowly Things: Snakes, Science, and Survival in the Congo Cover

ISBN13: 9780674029743
ISBN10: 0674029747
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Review-A-Day

"Red tape, local guides who knew less about the local snakes than she did, ants, termites, and a local graduate student in herpetology who had a fear of live reptiles and amphibians....Think you've got a hard job? Read Mean and Lowly Things." Doug Brown, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 2005 Kate Jackson ventured into the remote swamp forests of the northern Congo to collect reptiles and amphibians. Her camping equipment was rudimentary, her knowledge of Congolese customs even more so. She knew how to string a net and set a pitfall trap, but she never imagined the physical and cultural difficulties that awaited her.

Culled from the mud-spattered pages of her journals, Mean and Lowly Things reads like a fast-paced adventure story. It is Jackson’s unvarnished account of her research on the front lines of the global biodiversity crisis — coping with interminable delays in obtaining permits, learning to outrun advancing army ants, subsisting on a diet of Spam and manioc, and ultimately falling in love with the strangely beautiful flooded forest.

The reptile fauna of the Republic of Congo was all but undescribed, and Jackson’s mission was to carry out the most basic study of the amphibians and reptiles of the swamp forest: to create a simple list of the species that exist there — a crucial first step toward efforts to protect them. When the snakes evaded her carefully set traps, Jackson enlisted people from the villages to bring her specimens. She trained her guide to tag frogs and skinks and to fix them in formalin. As her expensive camera rusted and her Western soap melted, Jackson learned what it took to swim with the snakes — and that there’s a right way and a wrong way to get a baby cobra out of a bottle.

Review:

In our age of Google Maps, it's comforting to learn that a few places remain relatively impenetrable to the outside world. Nowhere is this more true than the Congo, which has long held a fascination for explorers and scientists and continues to guard its secrets...Descriptions of ant invasions, maggots under the skin, sleepless nights, bad food and even the odd venomous snake bite all keep the pages turning. Against the odds, Jackson's efforts in the Congo eventually pay off — not only does she discover a new species, she also finds romance. This intriguing blend of science and human interest, related in a matter-of-fact style, brings to life a little-known part of the world.

About the Author

Kate Jackson is Assistant Professor of Biology at Whitman College.

Table of Contents

  • Prologue
  1. How It All Started
  2. Back to the Congo
  3. In Limbo
  4. The Flooded Forest
  5. Neighbors, Nets, and Nothing
  6. The Red Snake
  7. A Bottle of Snakes
  8. A Day of Monsters
  9. Time to Go
  10. Red Tape Revisited
  11. Planning My Return
  12. Back to the Likouala
  13. This Is Impongui
  14. Snake Medicine
  15. Making Herpetologists
  16. The Home Stretch
  17. A Stressful Day
  18. Kende Malamu
  • Epilogue
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Carley, October 31, 2008 (view all comments by Carley)
I would describe myself as the opposite of a herpetologist, but I still found this book an engaging read. Jackson writes simply of her experience of setting out on her first expeditions to the Congo (not to be mistaken for the Democratic Republic of Congo in the news). It's more than a discovery of snakes and frogs; it's a discovery of her place in the science community and field science. Will she survive let alone bring back enough specimens to deem her expedition to Congo a success?
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(5 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674029743
Author:
Jackson, Kate
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Subject:
Poisonous snakes
Subject:
Canada
Subject:
Special Interest - Adventure
Subject:
Scientists - General
Subject:
Reptiles & Amphibians
Subject:
Science & Technology
Subject:
Jackson, Kate
Subject:
Herpetologists - Canada
Subject:
Animals - Reptiles & Amphibians
Subject:
Outdoors-Lore and Survival
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Cloth
Publication Date:
April 2008
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
49 color illustrations, 2 maps
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Science and Technology
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Reptiles and Amphibians
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Lore and Survival

Mean and Lowly Things: Snakes, Science, and Survival in the Congo Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674029743 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "Red tape, local guides who knew less about the local snakes than she did, ants, termites, and a local graduate student in herpetology who had a fear of live reptiles and amphibians....Think you've got a hard job? Read Mean and Lowly Things." (read the entire Powells.com review)
"Review" by , In our age of Google Maps, it's comforting to learn that a few places remain relatively impenetrable to the outside world. Nowhere is this more true than the Congo, which has long held a fascination for explorers and scientists and continues to guard its secrets...Descriptions of ant invasions, maggots under the skin, sleepless nights, bad food and even the odd venomous snake bite all keep the pages turning. Against the odds, Jackson's efforts in the Congo eventually pay off — not only does she discover a new species, she also finds romance. This intriguing blend of science and human interest, related in a matter-of-fact style, brings to life a little-known part of the world.
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