In 2012, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), one of BHL’s founding members, celebrated the grand reopening of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial. For three years, the Memorial was closed to the public as part of a 37.5 million dollar renovation plan to re-imagine this permanent exhibit. Theodore Roosevelt, America’s Conservation President, was intimately tied to the museum since its founding in 1869.
The relationship between man and cow is ancient. Evidence for domestication of cattle dates back to Mesolithic times (10,000 to 5000 BCE). For thousands of years, humans have made use of cows for labor, leather, milk, butter, cheese, meat and manure – among other things. (see diagram below) It is humbling to know that our modern society, an urbane environment seemingly so far removed from the life of a shepherd, is built on the foundation of pastoralism and animal husbandry. We are indebted to cows, who in-part have helped transform human subsistence into secure existence. In return for their contributions to mankind, cows only require that we feed, shelter, and defend them against wild animal attacks and disease. Regrettably, the commercialization of the beef industry has changed our ancient relationship with the cow dramatically for the worse.
In the 1920s, a once-familiar face in the northwestern United States all but disappeared. The majestic gray wolf, a top predator in the Rocky Mountain ecosystem, gave way to the pressures of habitat loss and human hunting. By the 1930s, a previously healthy breeding population of wolves was extinct in Montana. While the decimation of any species is tragic, the loss of top predators can have an even more profound effect on an ecosystem.
This week, throngs of people who are amping up for Discovery Channel’s 25th annual Shark Week. This week long commemoration of all things sharks is aired in 72 countries watched by ~ 30 million viewers and is the longest running program event on cable. Every year schools of shark fans around the world countdown the days in anticipation for this late summer shark line-up and when it arrives they organize home-screening parties, play games, trivia, award prizes, shave their hair, get manicures and generally remain glued to their televisions marveling in the jawsome mystery and power of sharks.
Royal Dixon, the author of this week’s book of the week, The Human Side of Birds (1917), had an eclectic background. His formal credentials included botanist at the Chicago Field Museum, ornithologist, lecturer for the NY Board of Education, science journalist and author of several books– all of which sought to put a human face on nature. He was also a dancer, thespian, political writer and founder of the First Animal Church in America.
If you are an American, you know who Smokey the Bear is. He’s the bear in the ranger hat who has been adamantly spreading the same message for 70+ years: “Only YOU can prevent forest fires” — and he’s been pretty successful.
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The Biodiversity Heritage Library is an open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. BHL’s global consortium of natural history, botanical, and research libraries cooperate to digitize and make their collections accessible as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.”
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