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Sunday, 24 May 2020

Book Review - Spiders of the World - A Natural History - Princeton University Press


     
       Time to conquer your arachnophobia and delve  into the wonderful world of spiders. This is a taxon that has interested me for as long as I can remember, intrinsically, as a significant control of insect populations, and as an important source of food for many birds.
     Spiders are found on every continent except Antarctica, and vary incredibly in size, form, colour and lifestyle. Most are benign, but some pack a forceful dose of venom, and the threat posed by female Black Widow Spiders lurking in outhouses, is the stuff of folklore and legend! Much has also been made of the propensity of female spiders to eat their suitors once mating is consummated. Did you know that Australian tarantulas are capable of seizing and consuming Cane Toads?
     Do I have your attention?
     This book is a compendium of everything you could possibly wish to know about spiders, accompanied by a stunning array of high quality colour photographs. It starts with a thorough review of spider anatomy with diagrams and incredible images of details revealed only under a microscope. It is a breathtaking journey through a world hitherto unknown to virtually all of us.
     What then follows is exceptional coverage of over a hundred spider families, presented taxonomically. It is illuminating to contemplate that there are more than 48,000 species of spiders in 4,000 genera and 115 families! These accounts are highlighted by beautiful colour photographs, depicting a range of lifestyle and habitat. The pictorial coverage benefits greatly from the availability of digital cameras and I think it is safe to say that many of the photographs represent activities seldom, if ever, shown before.
     Each family account is accompanied by a range map, and brief notes pinpointing the genus, distribution, habitat, and a summary of characteristics. I find this an incredibly pleasing device, showing very conscientious editing, with a view to making the book as useful to the reader as possible.
     The book concludes with a comprehensive glossary and recommendations for further reading.
     From the first page to the last this book is a tour de force. I recommend it highly.

Spiders of the World - A Natural History
Norman I. Platnick
US$29.95 - 9780691188850 - 240 pages - 6.5 in. x 9.5 in.
Publication date: 09 June 2020     
         

58 comments:

  1. An immense world.
    A very beautiful presentation.

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  2. Hi David, I am sure the book is fascinating, but sorry, I don't think I want to read it. Yes, I am scared of spiders. Any spiders larger than a pin head make me want to run away very fast.... I am always happy that the visiting birds on my balcony love eating the spiders which prowl outside. I have an arrangement with my balcony spiders that they are allowed to live on the balcony, but it is FORBIDDEN to cross the threshold to my apartment! Lucky we have no poisonous spiders here, in Israel there were some nasty ones! So, now I've confessed it all! Hugs, Valerie

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  3. I love spiders and I am not afraid of them at all!
    I would love to have a Tarantula! My furry friend!
    Very interesting book. Thank you for presentation.
    Are you still mad at me?
    I give you a big friendly hug! Sorry ... but I hope you understand my point of view!

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    1. I was never mad at you. I reciprocate your hug.

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  4. Trop chouette!C'est un livre qui me plairait beaucoup, déjà sur la couverture j'en reconnais deux vu chez moi, Argiope bruennichi et Eresus kollari.
    Bonne soirée

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  5. You had me at the first book cover! My son is an entomologist and taught us Thanks! respect for spiders. He had two tarantulas. I cannot recall their species, but it was entertaining. I took their moultings to show my students and there were varied reactions.
    This was awesome!

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  6. My earlier comments don't seem to have published. Oh well.
    Just wanted to tell you how awesome this post is. My son is an entomologist, had two tarantulas in his room. I took the moultings to my show my students and it was great.
    I love this post.

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  7. They are fascinating critters aren't they? And often sadly maligned. Our peacock spiders are also very beautiful and some day I hope to see one in the wild. They are tiny though so I will have to be lucky.

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  8. Hello David,

    I'm not afraid of housespiders, or they I meet in my garden. But I really like birds better, David.

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    1. I am quite confident that spiders are beneficial in your garden, Marit.

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  9. Hari OM
    Added to my wishlist!!! Have always been fascinated the creepy crawlies of our planet... and there is more than the tarantula helping scoff the cane toads! YAM xx

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    1. Thanks very much, YAM, for this very interesting link.

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  10. Debo reconocer que debe ser un mundo interesante y apasionante, conozco gente que les apasiona el mundo de las arañas. Yo nunca he sentido predilección por estos arácnidos amigo David, más bien les tengo poca simpatía pero reconozco que dada la diversidad, formas y tamaños debe ser un mundo fascinante para las personas amantes de ellas. Por tu comentario debe ser un libro fascinante lleno de buena información.
    Recibe un fuerte abrazo mi querido amigo y compadre.

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    1. I would imagine that spiders consume many harmful insects in your garden, Juan.

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  11. Epa, spiders in sight, what a scare! i die if i see a spider. I have a barbaric fear, it is one of the animals that most impresses me. Helpless or not, i run away. Although i recognize that they make spectacular spiderwebs, it is best seen when it rains and traps of rain are trapped.
    Good night, I'm a little scared now ... (i'm going to sleep hugging the insecticide, just in case) 😂😂

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    1. I hope you have a very peaceful night's sleep!

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  12. Wonderful post but it didn’t get me over my fear of spiders lol,, I can take everything else but not spiders, nope, I’m 64,, I can’t see me getting over it any time soon!

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  13. As a small child I would scream at any spiders (and taught a younger brother to do the same!) but now I find them fascinating - although I still will not touch them LOL. I don't mind handling other insects at all, so it is strange that spiders affect me that way.

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  14. That sounds a fascinating book. Must see if it is available here.

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  15. Nice review of this book David. Spiders facinating creatures. Luckely I never had fear of them and always found them intresting.
    Have a nice day and week.
    Regards,
    Roos

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  16. Hi David - what another amazing reference book ... looks to be fabulous ... thanks for letting us know about it - tarantulas and cane toads ... yugh! But I love see cobwebs in the morning dew ... take care and all the best - Hilary

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  17. Spiders, looks as if it might be an ok book.
    White tail, redbacks, trapdoors trants and several others are all about doing their thing down here.

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    1. "Ok" would barely begin to describe it, Margaret.

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  18. I find that I'm on the edge of gaining an interest in spiders, David, but I suspect that my first forray into their world will be through a UK field guide. I have found myself photographing them from time to time, so it might well happen!

    My very best wishes to you both - - - Richard

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  19. Hello David, great review of this Spiders of the World book. Thanks for sharing, it does look interesting. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week!

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  20. Este libro me vendría muy bien. Las arañas me gusta fotografiarlas y verlas, en el jardín hay bastantes. Tengo varias entradas de ellas. Un abrazo amigo David.

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    1. No doubt they contribute in a major way in your garden in keeping harmful insect populations are reasonable levels..

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  21. As a child I was mad on spiders and I've never developed the irrational fear (well, it's irrational in England) that some people have. This sounds like a wonderful book, though not one I'm likely to find the money to buy. I'm glad that such books exist though.

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    1. Hi John: Maybe suggest to your local library that they get a copy.

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  22. Seems like an intensely inclusive useful book. I once went out of my way to save spiders but I learned it might not be a myth they sometimes drink from the eyes of the very elderly and catatonic in care homes. Not sure if this is true so hesitated to say it ... but yikes!

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    1. I had not heard this, but it would not surprise me all, since they would seek out a ready source of moisture.

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  23. Beautiful types of spiders, but I prefer not to have them around David ;-))
    Greetings Tinie

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  24. David!
    Excellent book review - Spiders of the world.
    Spiders are interesting creatures.
    Hugs and greetings.

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  25. Sounds like a good book, David.
    My wife sent me this website for birds, not sure if you are familar with it. https://www.birdnote.org/ They play a bird song each day. It is interesting hearing the different birds they highlight.

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    1. Thanks very much, Bill. I will be sure to check this site.

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  26. What a fascinating book. As an admirer of spiders, I may have to seek it out.

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  27. Prefiero verlas, pero no muy de cerca. le temo a una picadura.

    Besos

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  28. Interesting book on spiders but I don't like spiders.

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  29. While I don’t dislike spiders, I would not hesitate to kill an inside intruder, but never one that’s outdoors. I have always been fascinated by the webs many spin, most are true works of art. The book looks very comprehensive, but not on my to read list as well. Nice to see the connection to my home state of NJ with the Princeton University Press label.

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    1. There are many first rate publishers of natural history books throughout the world, but PUP is undoubtedly in the top tier. I am always happy that I can read good texts in two other languages, and if I really persevere, a third.

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  30. My real fascination with spiders began after I was introduced to the peacock spiders. I still don't enjoy running into those huge webs strung across trails, but I'm finding the creatures who create them increasingly attractive. Of course, once I began photographing flowers I found out just how many spiders are roaming our world!

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  31. Great review, David.

    I love discovering new spiders but have found them challenging to photograph. Of course, I'm easily distracted by -- Look! Scrub Jay! :)

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  32. Hi David,
    Appears a fascinating publication but doubt if Veg would appreciate the subject, she goes mental over the smallest spider in the UK, but in Africa she goes up to the largest spiders wi her camera to get a close up, she even saved a bird from the web of a bird eating spider, no problems from the spider, but the bird gave her a good pecking.

    Stay safe and well.
    John

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  33. Well, spiders aren't my favorite but as books about spiders go, you make this one sound worth one's times.

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  34. Quite honestly I do not think I could ever become really interested in spiders, they have always given me the shudders and still do. I can take photos of them, but they must keep their distance and they need to be in the garden. They are really not welcome in the house. Keep well, Diane

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  35. I like the cover of the book. It is attractive, and inviting to read!
    The number of spiders' species is overwhelming! I gather from your review that the book is very rich in details and photos! Definitely worth reading!

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  36. I am not a fan of spiders at all. If I see a large one, it brings out a very sudden need to scream.... which is stupid and useless I know. But a couple of years ago a huge spider built a web in a large potted geranium on my deck, and I used to feed him dead flies every morning. It was fascinating to watch him roll them up in sticky web and save them for later in his larder. I never did see a Mrs Spider.

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    1. It is probably Mrs Spider that was the occupant of the web,

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  37. No dudo que sea interesantae. Pero lo siento David me dan terror, no puedo con ellas, siempre me han dado miedo.
    Buena noche. Cuídate.
    Un abrazo.

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  38. Oh, that looks really interesting! Once I've heard that if you have spiders in your house, your home is a healthy one. We have quite some here... You mentioned a tarantula - when we were in Victoria we visited the Bug Zoo (a fascinating place!) and I was able to take a tarantula in my hand and let her walk up my arm. It was quite an experience!

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  39. This looks great, I must admit I had quite the fear of them over the years which I managed to tame so my daughter didn't pick up it (didn't work she developed a fear all on her own!) now they don't bother me and i'm quite happy to try and spot them now!

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    1. There does seem to be an inherent and deep-rooted fear of spiders, experienced by many. I have only ever found them fascinating, thank goodness.

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  40. Stay safe with a book to help you asleep.

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  41. I don't love spiders and am not afraid them. One spiders lives in the sink on the summer cottage kitchen. Ever morning I see him there and say to be safe because of running water :-)
    I believe this book is interesting due to the large amount of information.

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  42. I'm not too keen on spiders, but it looks and sounds a good book.

    All the best Jan

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  43. Hola David. Ya sabes que tengo cierta pasión por las arañas, así que este libro me parece muy interesante. Muchas gracias. Besos.

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  44. Arghhhh ...... 😨😨😨
    I am a huge nature person, but I am so afraid of spiders. I suffered a huge trauma to spiders in my youth so I shiver like a ride.
    Maybe that's why I should read this book, but I have to recover first.

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