Natural History

A magazine of scientific research and education in nature and culture. Features articles, book reviews, and general information about the natural world and its inhabitants.

Articles from Vol. 104, No. 10, October

American Pie
Which food is the soul of America? The answer is as close to our hearts (and stomachs) as Mom, Flag, and...Apple Pie.Sure, when people of other nations think of American food, the hamburger comes to mind, and maybe even Americans think of the hamburger...
Colonialism, Past and Present -- Mother Dao the Turtlelike Directed by Vincent Monnikendam / Sugar Slaves Directed by Trevor Graham / Gene Hunters
In recent years, anthropologists have grown increasingly uneasy about the history of colonialism and have struggled to make amends for the damage inflicted by Western nations on Third World peoples. Mother Pao the Turtlelike, by Vincent Monnikendam,...
Crichton's Jurassic Replay; Bakker's Utahraptor Raomance -- the Lost World by Michael Crichton / Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker
THE LOST WORLD, by Michael Crichton. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., $25.00; 416 pp. RAPTOR RED, by Robert T. Bakker. Bantam Books, $21.95; 246 pp.Michael Crichton offers several epigraphs at the beginning of The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park. One of...
Death by Black Hole
Without a doubt, the most spectacular way to die in space is to fall into a black hole. Where else in the universe can you lose your life by being ripped apart atom by atom?Black holes are regions where gravity is so great that the speed required to...
Diary of a Museum Naturalist
A diary kept by Edmund Heller, a naturalist and explorer who first made a name for himself on the Smithsonian-Roosevelt East Africa Expedition of 1909-10, was recently donated to the Special Collections of the Library by collectors Jean S. and Frederic...
Fossils by the Sea
Lyme Regis, which sits above a wide, shallow bay on the English Channel coast, is a town popular today for its history and dramatic scenery. A long, curved sea wall, known as the Cobb, surrounds the harbor, which was a major port in the Middle Ages....
Four Favorites, and Why -- State of Weightlessness / Harold Directed by Steve Thomas / Byker Directed by Amber Films / God Gave Her a Mercedes-Benz Directed by Katia Forbert Petersen
Despite the dissimilarity in topics and approach, each of my favorites--through the mastery and artifice of good cinema--pulls us into its subject and transports us into the lives of its people. But artistry does not automatically equal deception. Each...
Hammerhead City
About fifteen miles east of the Baja peninsula, submerged in the Gulf of California, is a craggy underwater mountain known as Espiritu Santo. Like many basaltic volcanic peaks, it is a mecca for sea creatures. Among the many species of fish at Espiritu...
Hope for the Botanically Challenged -- the Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behaviour by David Attenborough
THE PRIVATE LIFE OF PLANTS: A NATURAL HISTORY OF PLANT BEHAVIOUR, by David Attenborough. Princeton University Press, $26.95; 320 pp., illus. This book accompanies a six-part television series, airing on TBS Superstation from October 9 to 14.I first realized...
Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival: Rascals, Survivors, Dreamers
Once upon a time there was this guy who one day up and decided he wanted to be a filmmaker; he wanted to portray authentic, "real" ghetto life, which was noticeably absent from the silver screen. If you haven't guessed it already, the guy was me (we're...
Playing the Cards You Are Dealt -- Twitch and Shout Directed by Laurel Chiten / A Forgotten People Directed by Dai Sil Kim-Gibson / Breaking Silence Directed by Susan Pointon / the Morehouse Men / Femmes Aux Yeux Ouverts Directed by Anne-Laure Folly
Here the filmmakers focus on folks who are in special situations, or subcultures, and whose existence is defined outside the mainstream. In Twitch and Shout, we enter the world of Tourette's syndrome sufferers, whose spasmodic body movements and uncontrollable...
Rhythms of a Desert Lizard
Alfred Brown, an English immigrant to South Africa in the second half of the nineteenth century, was fascinated by large lizards, living and extinct. Officially, Brown was schoolmaster, as well as postmaster and librarian, of Aliwal North, a small frontier...
The Great Western and the Fighting Temeraire
Science progresses; art changes. Scientists are interchangeable and anonymous before their universal achievements; artists are idiosyncratic and necessary creators of their unique masterpieces. If Copernicus and Galileo had never lived, the earth would...
The Place Where Vodun Was Born
In Benin, West Africa, Vodun permeates life. People come into the world through the auspices of a deity and live out their lives in a world filled with deities who connect the natural and material worlds to the worlds of the living and the dead. They...
The Smart Gorilla's Recipe Book
Effie looks determined as she makes a beeline for a tall, tempting nettle clump in the meadow of giant herbs. She gives adolescent Shinda a warning cough of aggression--although he had made no move toward the nettles. (Gorillas are quite antisocial when...
Turner's Hall Woods, Barbados
The easternmost island of the Caribbean, Barbados emerged from beneath the sea some 750,000 years ago. Formed when layers of sedimentary rock were scraped off a subducting tectonic plate and uplifted, it differs geologically from the volcanic islands...