Natural History

Danielle Clode reviews 'Wild Man From Borneo: A cultural history of the Orangutan' by Robert Cribb, Helen Gilbert, and Helen Tiffen

Danielle Clode
30 May 2017

What does it mean to be human – nearly human, not-quite-human, or even inhuman? Such questions have preoccupied writers and researchers for centuries, from Charles Darwin and Mary Shelley to the uncanny valley of robotics, AI, and a trans-human future. In Wild Man from Borneo, Robert Cribb, Helen Gilbert, and Helen Tiffen explore this question through the ... More

Danielle Clode reviews 'Landmarks' by Robert Macfarlane

Danielle Clode
28 May 2015

The Western Isles arch across the north-west coast of Scotland, sheltering the mainland from the North Sea’s fury. In summer there are few places more magical than these islands, which Seton Gordon once described as standing ‘on the rim of the material earth’ looking west to the immortal realm of Tir nan Og.

On the northern islands, granite and gneiss ... More

Danielle Clode reviews 'Tambora' by Gillen D'Arcy Wood

Danielle Clode
29 April 2015

As I sit by the fire, a gale rackets at the door and horizontal sleet sheets across my windows. With monster snowfalls in the Alps, the weather is breaking records again. Each winter, the winds are stronger, rains heavier, and temperatures lower than ever before. I put more wood on the fire and consider my investment in double-glazing well-spent.

In our prot ... More

Ruth A. Morgan reviews 'Flooded Forest and Desert Creek' by Matthew J. Colloff

Ruth A. Morgan
30 October 2014

In July 2009 I toured the Murray-Darling Basin and northern Queensland with a group of American college professors to see firsthand how the waterways of these regions were faring. By this time, south-eastern Australia had been in drought for nearly a decade, reducing its rivers and creeks to mere trickles. Aboard the MV Kingfisher, we explored the wetlands of ... More

Sam Cadman: the death of animals

Sam Cadman
27 May 2014

As Carol Freeman notes in a footnote to her chapter in Animal Death, ‘what the term “animal studies” defines is still being debated’. The seventeen chapters of this edited volume range across historical, scientific, cultural, and artistic animal-related subjects. They reflect a self-conscious commitment on the part of editors Jay Johnston and Fiona Pr ... More

The Science of what Separates Us from other Animals

Robyn Williams
26 February 2014

ABR Radio National’s Robyn Williams reviews Thomas Suddendorf’s important new study of the science that separates human beings from animals.

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Peter Menkhorst reviews 'Lost Animals'

Peter Menkhorst
19 January 2014

Errol Fuller has played a key role in documenting historical extinctions of birds, notably the Great Auk and the Dodo. In the course of this work he has accumulated a fascinating collection of photographs of now extinct animals, many of them unique and not previously published.

... More

White Beech

John Thompson
16 January 2014

John Thompson examines Germaine Greer’s sober, meditative, deeply moving account of her efforts to regenerate sixty hectares of degraded rainforest in the Gold Coast hinterland.

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Rebecca Giggs on 'How Animals Grieve'

Rebecca Giggs
26 August 2013

In an age of YouTube piglets and puppies, when animals are images and those images are everywhere, the interior lives of animals have scant authority. The triumph of the animal welfare lobby has been to widen, in the public imagination, our definition of what types of bodies can suffer. But who can guess what goes on inside animals’ heads? Only poets are pet ... More

Peter Menkhorst reviews 'Sentinel Chickens'

Peter Menkhorst
25 September 2012

Why would a famous virologist and immunologist (and Nobel laureate) write a book linking birds, human diseases, and ecological degradation? The answer is partly that Peter Doherty obviously has a soft spot for birds and birdwatching. He argues that anyone with an enquiring mind and a natural history bent cannot fail to notice birds and to be intrigued by them. But t ... More

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