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June 13 , 2011

The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth


The story of bold adventurers who risked death to discover strange life forms in the farthest corners of planet Earth.

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Great Work of Time

His name is Caspar Last, and this is the unique chronicle of the vacation he took from the twentieth century. It begins - or does it? - when Caspar, a genius, poor of course, and resentful at that, decides to use his "time machine" to bring back a modest fortune. It begins - or maybe it doesn't - with a mysterious bequest to a secret Otherhood…

Beginning with Linnaeus, a colorful band of explorers made it their mission to travel to the most perilous corners of the planet and bring back astonishing new life forms. They attracted followers ranging from Thomas Jefferson, who laid out mastodon bones on the White House floor, to twentieth-century doctors who used their knowledge of new species to conquer epidemic diseases. Acclaimed science writer Richard Conniff brings these daredevil "species seekers" to vivid life. Alongside their globe-spanning tales of adventure, he recounts some of the most dramatic shifts in the history of human thought. At the start, everyone accepted that the Earth had been created for our benefit. We weren't sure where vegetable ended and animal began, we couldn't classify species, and we didn't understand the causes of disease. But all that changed as the species seekers introduced us to the pantheon of life on Earth—and our place within it.

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