American natural history - by W. T. Hornaday - (1914) PDF-ebook

American natural history

American natural history
American natural history 

Aims to enable the reader to become personally acquainted with each animal and to make clear its place in the great system of nature.
The views entertained by the author and publisher as they were represented by the first edition of the "American Natural History" have been materially strengthened by the lapse of time. 

In 1904 we believed that the time was ripe for the publication of a work which, while scientifically accurate, would convey much practical information, and be read through for entertainment before being placed upon the shelf for reference. 

The highest compliment that the author ever received regarding the original volume was the assurance from a young lady that she had "read every page of it, from cover to cover." During the past ten years, the conditions affecting the wildlife of North America have swiftly changed. 

The total amount of scientific facts that have been accumulated by the technologists, and stored up for future reference, is enormous. Scientific "specialization" has become such an educational mania that the old-fashioned "all-around" naturalists now are few and lonesome. At the same time, however, the need for the dissemination of practical everyday knowledge regarding our mammals, birds, reptiles, and fishes never was so great as now. 

The wholesale destruction of birdlife, with the enormously increased cost of living that has come as a natural and inexorable result, renders it highly necessary that people generally should have a chance to recognize their friends and their enemies in the animal world. Today there are millions of American producers and consumers who do not know their best friends, and who think, for example, that a quail is valuable only as so many ounces of edible meat for the table.

 This work was designed to afford the general reader, the parent, the teacher, and also young people an opportunity to obtain a speaking acquaintance, on a scientific basis, with the best representatives of the living vertebrate animal forms of North America. 
The great multiplication of species and geographic races that have taken place during the last few years renders necessary this new edition of the original work. A glance at the number of species and races in the Order of Gnawing Animals is sufficient to convince the average reader of the necessity of a general view, and the impossibility of a complete acquaintance with even our own quadrupeds. 

The time was when a diligent student could at least know every mammalian species by name, but that time went by long ago. The gulf that now is fixed between the zoological investigators and the general zoologist is becoming wider and deeper day by day. Consider the possibilities for mastering the identity of 784 species and 453 subspecies of the Order of Gnawing Animals (Rodents). 

We must accept the fact that in the scientific determination of the precise status of a fauna, subspecies are necessary, even though it is not possible for the layman to recognize them. I am convinced that today a great many subspecies exist on very narrow grounds, but we are concerned with only a very few of them. Let us become acquainted with the important forms, and the types of groups that are most worth knowing. In reckoning up numbers of species and subspecies I have accepted Dr D. G. Elliot's "Check List of North American Mammals" (1905) as the best authority, and quite, sufficient for the purposes of this work, even though a few forms have been added to our fauna since its publication. For the classification of the mammals of the world, living and extinct, the highest authority and literally the last word, is the "Age of Mammals," by Professor Henry Fairfield Osborn. The scientific student is advised to accept and follow his scheme of classification. 

In view of the constant, and often exasperating, changes that are being made in the Latin names of animals, I regard it as useless and unnecessary to attempt to keep up with them; and therefore I have made no changes whatever in the names that were originally chosen with great care in the first composition of this work.

 Both the author and the publishers thank the public and the press most gratefully for the signal marks of approval with which this work has been received. It is that approval that has made this four-volume edition seem worthwhile. The author, by numerous amplifications and by substantial additions in various directions, gladly avails himself of this opportunity to bring the work down to date, in all particulars save a few that will not seriously affect the progress either of the general reader or of the student

I. Mammals.--II. Mammals (concluded) Birds.--III. Birds (concluded)--IV. Reptiles, amphibians and fishes

book details :
  • Author: W. T. Hornaday
  • Publication date: 1914
  • Company: New York, C. Scribner's Sons

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