Monday, June 08, 2015

Anatomy without all the dissection

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, nature, illustrations

I sometimes wish I'd have kept up the drawing I did as a child. A lack of eye-hand coordination meant quick drawings weren't accurate, and to draw a good likeness of anything was much too time-consuming. I sometimes marvel at the drawing skills of naturalists, pre-eminently Roger Tory Peterson, whose Field Guide series sets a very high standard for nature illustrating. Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of the Natural World, written and illustrated by Julia Rothman is not quite a field guide, so much as an enthusiast's collection of nature arcana, illustrated in a more cartoonish style.

The "anatomy" is primarily external, no dissecting knife needed. This illustration of the parts of a flower from page 62, and a cutaway of Earth on pages 14-15, are about as "deep" as it gets.

Many more pages are devoted to catalogs of interesting specimens from every natural realm, at least for critters and plants larger than an inch or so. There is a good illustration of the various kinds of feathers on a bird, and one of the external anatomy of a typical insect, using an ant. This page of butterflies of interest to the author is typical.

A book such as this is not intended to convey lots of knowledge. Indeed, if you add up the words, they amount to a small chapter. Rather, it introduces the reader/viewer to all the breadth of living things. Quite an enjoyable book.

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