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125 million years ago on the floodplains of North America, a burrowing lizard started down the long evolutionary path of shedding its limbs. The 60-plus species of snakes found in Sean P. Graham's American Snakes have this ancestral journey to thank for their ubiquity, diversity, and beauty. Although many people fear them, snakes are as much a part of America's rich natural heritage as redwoods, bald eagles, and grizzly bears. Found from the vast Okefenokee Swamp to high alpine meadows, from hardwood canopies to the burning bottom of the Grand Canyon, these ultimate vertebrates are ecologically pivotal predators and quintessential survivors.
In this revelatory and engaging meditation on American snakes, Graham, a respected herpetologist and gifted writer,
- explains the everyday lives of American snakes, from their daily routines and seasonal cycles to their love lives, hunting tactics, and defensive repertoires
- debunks harmful myths about snakes and explores their relationship with humans
- highlights the contribution of snakes to the American wilderness
- tells tales of "snake people" – important snake biologists with inspiring careers
Neither a typical field guide nor an exhaustive reference, American Snakes is instead a fascinating study of the suborder Serpentes. Brimming with intriguing and unusual stories – of hognose snakes that roll over and play dead, blindsnakes with tiny vestigial lungs, rainbow-hued dipsadines, and wave-surfing sea-snakes – the text is interspersed with scores of gorgeous full-colour images of snakes, from the scary to the sublime. This proud celebration of a diverse American wildlife group will make every reader, no matter how sceptical, into a genuine snake lover.
Sean P. Graham is an assistant professor of biology at Sul Ross State University.
"Sean Graham is a fine field biologist and scholar, an unusually talented writer, and he's provided the best imaginable book on my favorite organisms. Here new converts to pondering serpents will get the most up-to-date facts, skillfully sifted and presented, all enlivened by a vibrant array of illustrations; those with more experience will be reminded over and over again how we became fascinated with these limbless reptiles. American Snakes is truly a gift for everyone who wants to savor their wonderful world."
– Harry W. Greene, Cornell University, author of Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature
"This well-written and enjoyable introduction to snakes fills a gap in the current literature. Most books are either written for youngsters who are just becoming fascinated or for seasoned veterans of snake literature looking to learn a few new details. This book does a great job of dispelling myths and answering many of the typical questions that one gets when others find out that you are interested in snakes, making itinteresting to all levels of snake enthusiasts."
– Toby J. Hibbitts, Texas A&M University, coauthor of Texas Lizards: A Field Guide
"Brimming with intriguing and unusual stories – of hognose snakes that roll over and play dead, blind snakes with tiny vestigial lungs, rainbow-hued dipsadines, and wave-surfing sea-snakes – the text is interspersed with scores of gorgeous full-color images of snakes, from the scary to the sublime. This proud celebration of a diverse American wildlife group will make every reader, no matter how skeptical, into a genuine snake lover."
– Birdbooker Report