Astronomy Special Offers for the New Year

2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first look through a telescope and the birth of modern astronomy. To celebrate this anniversary we’ll add more new astronomy books to our database this year and bring you regular book selections and special offers.

In related news, Scotland is planning to establish Europe’s first official Dark Sky Park in Galloway. Find out more at Dark Sky Scotland or get yourself a copy of the Dark Sky Map of the British Isles.

Check out these special offers on astronomy titles, including Mars, A Cosmic Stepping Stone by Kevin Nolan and New Theories of Everything by John D. Barrow.

Browse our full range of astronomy titles in Astronomy and Cosmology

8 Natural Areas Awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status

UNESCO 8 natural areas have just been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status. These are the most up to date books on these area’s flora & fauna.

Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems (France)
Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific: New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands
Les Gorgones des Recifs Coralliens de Nouvelle-Caledonie – Coral Reef Gorgonians of New Caledonia
Lonely Planet Travel Guides: Vanuatu & New Caledonia

Surtsey (Iceland)
Surtsey: Ecosystem Formed
Plants and Animals of Iceland

Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan)
The Birds of Kazakhstan

Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (Mexico)
Nomads of the Wind: The Migration of the Monarch Butterfly and Other Wonders of the Butterfly World
The Monarch Butterfly: Biology and Conservation
Collins Field Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Central America

Mount Sanqingshan National Park (China)
Wild China DVD
A Guide to the Mammals of China
Wildlife Conservation in China: Preserving the Habitat of China’s Wild West

Socotra Archipelago (Yemen)
Socotra: A Natural History of the Islands and their People

Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona (Switzerland)
No books that we can find. Any suggestions?

Joggins Fossil Cliffs (Canada)
Nothing specifically on this, although Fossil Ecosystems of North America: A Guide to the Sites and their Extraordinary Biotas is a thorough introduction to fossil hotspots.

Top 10 New Species Announced

Top 10 SpeciesThe International Institute for Species Exploration have issued their list of the Top 10 new species described in 2007. We offer a warm welcome to these species as they leave the masses of what is not known and join the slightly more ordered ranks of the known:

  • Sleeper ray Electrolux addisoni
  • 75 million year old Giant Duck-billed dinosaur Gryposaurus monumentensis
  • Pink millipede Desmoxytes purpurosea
  • Frog Philautus maia
  • Highly venomous snake Oxyuranus temporalis
  • Fruit bat Styloctenium mindorensis
  • Fungi from Silwood Park campus (Imperial College, UK) Xerocomus silwoodensis
  • Lethal box jellyfish Malo kingi
  • Rhinoceros beetles Megaceras briansaltini
  • Michelin Man plant Tecticornia bibenda

The International Institute for Species Exploration have also released the State of Observed Species Report (SOS) for 2006 listing 16,969 new species. 53% of these are not surprisingly insects, though the list includes 185 new mammal and 37 new bird species.  The SOS report is issued annually on 23rd of May to conincide with the birthday of Linnaeus – it can be downloaded here.

Sustaining LifeSustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiveristy offers, in the words of Al Gore: “The most complete and powerful argument I have seen for the importance of preserving biodiversity“. Includes a foreword by EO Wilson and a prologue by Kofi Annan.

New Chameleon Species is the Mayfly of the Tetrapod World

Natural History of MadagascarKarsten et al, reporting in this month’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Subscription required for full access), describe the extrodinary life history of a chameleon species Furcifer labordi which spends more time incubating in the egg than living outside it. F. labordi’s incubation period is 8-9 months, they reach sexual maturity within 2 months of hatching then live for a further 2-3 months.

Because they are annually hatching as one age cohort, they all die off within a short space of time prior to replacement in the next life cycle by their incubating offspring. This life history strategy is unkown in over 28,000 other tetrapod (four limbed) vertebrate species but might explain the incidence of rapid deaths of chameleons in captivity.

Dian FosseyDian Fossey’s first article in National Geographic has been republished online. Originally in the January 1970 issue of National Geographic, her front-line account of gorillas in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda is as fresh and compelling now as it must have been to the readers who got their copies of National Geographic back in 1970. Dian’s impassioned call for action is unfortunately as relevant today as it was 38 years ago:

“Money alone will not solve the problem. Conservation groups and political authority must join in concerted programs if this three-nation area and its wildlife are to be saved from human trespassers.

Such help is overdue. I only hope that Rafiki, Uncle Bert, Icarus, and my other forest friends can survive until it comes.”

The July 2008 National Geographic brings a heart-wrenching update on the fate of Gorilla’s in Virunga National Park, DRC. I’ve been an on-off subscriber to National Geographic for 10-15 years – it’s the quality of articles like this that keep drawing me back.

Colossal Squid – Largest Known Eyes Discovered

Giant SquidResearch staff at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa have been studying a rarely seen Colossal Squid caught by fishermen off the Antarctic coast last February. They found that it has eyes measuring 27cm in diameter – the largest eye found to date!

There are regular updates on the Te Papa Blog and videos of the ongoing examination.

I wonder if NHBS is the only bookshop in the world with a Cephalopods Category on our website?

NHBS Appointed Distributor of BTO Publications

BTOWe are pleased to announce that the British Trust for Ornithology has appointed NHBS as trade distributor of BTO Publications.

Bestsellers include:
The BTO Nestbox Guide
Identification Guide to European Passerines
Identification Guide to European Non-Passerines
Statistics for Ornithologists

Browse the full list

The British Trust for Ornithology has existed since 1933 as an independent, scientific research trust, investigating the populations, movements and ecology of wild birds in the British Isles. Their speciality is the design and implementation of volunteer wild bird surveys through a partnership between a large number of volunteers and a small scientific staff.

Click here to find out more about becoming a BTO member

Happy 300th Birthday Linnaeus!

LinnaeusCarl Linnaeus was born 300 years ago!

To celebrate the life and work of the ‘father of taxonomy’ we have put together a selection of key taxonomic titles including an English translation of Linnaeus’ Philosophia Botanica and several titles about Linnaeus himself. We have included Order out of Chaos, a co-publication between the Linnean Society of London and London’s Natural History Museum, brings together for the first time information on the typification of all of Linnaeus’ plant names.

Also known as Carl von Linne´ following his ennoblement in 1761, Linnaeus’ lasting legacy is the binomial classification system used to this day. The Tree of Life is a beautifully produced taxonomic overview of the natural world demonstrating the universal utility of the Linnean system. if you need to catch up on ‘recent’ advances since Linnaeus’ day, Milestones in Systematics covers developments in systematics over the last 100 years. We have a wide range of titles on taxonomy and systematics, many related titles can be found in our botanical categories.

Christopher Helm 1937-2007

Christopher HelmChristopher Helm, ornithologist and publisher, passed away on the 20th of January 2007. His legacy lives on in the highly acclaimed range of field guides and other natural history titles published under the ‘Helm’ imprint and well known to birders around the world. The latest Helm title, published just after the sad news of Christopher Helm’s death, is the Birds of Northern South America. Read full obituaries in the Times and Independent newspapers.

The Human Factor

A quick look at the BBC News website this lunchtime reveals two interesting articles about our fellow Homo sapiens.

Firstly, the population of the USA reached 300 million as of 11:46GMT today. Just one big number among many big numbers which emerge when discussing how population sizes are growing rapidly in many parts of the world. When do we collectively accept a shared responsibility to consider a global population size based on replacement? Jared Diamond builds towards this point in Collapse (now in paperback). How do we manage our resources and the (inevitable) impact we have on the planet? A number of noteworthy new titles investigate e.g. An Introduction to Sustainable Development, and, focusing on the direct consequence of growing populations and (welcome) development the Earthscan Reader in Sustainable Consumption. In the midst of our consumption, and even in spite of our efforts, what lengths must we take to protect biodiversity? Gaining Ground: In Pursuit of Ecological Sustainability makes a powerful case for the protection of wildlife. How do we balance the high standard of living some of us are lucky enough to enjoy, and that we hope will soon extend to all, with the responsibilty to manage the planet. How are our societies to make these choices, and how are the issues being presented to the public? Environmental Sociology investigates our response to the facts.

Secondly, Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics predicts that the human species will split in two over the next 100,000 years. Curry bases this on likely mating preferences between socio-economic classes – read Mating Systems and Strategies to find out more about the implications of mate choice, or The Complete World of Human Evolution for a broad introduction to humankind.