Cover image for The Oryx guide to natural history : the earth and all its inhabitants
The Oryx guide to natural history : the earth and all its inhabitants
Barnes-Svarney, Patricia L.
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Publication Information:
Phoenix, Ariz. : Oryx Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xi, 252 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm
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QH45.2 .B37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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Ideal for librarians, instructors, and students, this superior, one-stop reference guide makes finding answers to natural history questions or doing research a breeze. More than just an answer book on natural history, this unique guide provides understanding into the history of science itself. Readers get rare insight into the beginnings of a scientific event, how it evolved, and who were some of the key scientists along the way. Recent scientific controversies also are included. Covering the history of earth and its living creatures, this special reference contains 30 chapters on topics in geology, oceanography, climatology, meteorology, biology, paleontology, and anthropology.

Author Notes

PATRICIA BARNES-SVARNEY has an extensive background in the physical sciences and has worked as a geomorphologist, physical oceanographer, and geochemist. Ms. Barnes-Svarney is the author of numerous books including Weather Around the World (with Thomas Svarney)

e Handy Dinosaur Book (with Thomas Svarney)

w the New Technology Works (with Robert Cone)

teroid: Earth Destroyer or New Frontier?

d Comparing the Planets: Travelers Guide to the Solar System. She has also contributed to the award winning The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference. Additionally, her credits include over 350 articles for such magazines as Popular Science, Astronomy, Air & Space, Technology Review, Omni, and USAir.

THOMAS E. SVARNEY is a consultant in the field of failure analysis and has held positions at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as well as a major computer corporation. He holds degrees in both engineering science and physics and graduate work in materials science. Mr. Svarney's most recent science books include Skies of Fury: Weird Weather Around the World and The Handy Dinosaur Book (both with Patricia Barnes-Svarney). He has also contributed to several books, including How the New Technology Works: A Guide to High Tech Concepts and The New York Public Library Desk Reference, and written over 30 articles for such national and international journals as Solid State Technology, Praktische Metallographie, and Microelectronic Manufacturing and Testing.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

This is a succinct survey of natural history, covering events in the natural world as well as the development of human understanding about natural objects and phenomena. The authors have expertise in the physical and earth sciences and have previously contributed to several other reference books. Each chapter treats one of 30 different natural history topics, from Amphibians to Volcanoes, and begins with a very useful time line of natural events and the human discoveries related to them from prehistory through the 1990s. A history section follows, describing in greater detail each of the most important events, developments, and discoveries. The last section of each chapter defines several important terms related to the topic but is not extensive enough to qualify the work as a subject dictionary. Inset boxes scattered throughout the text cover current debates, folklore, and scientific studies, such as volcano myths throughout world cultures and the bird and dinosaur evolution question. Tables in each chapter provide such information as the geologic time scale, the animal kingdom classification system, and the world's mountain ranges. The topical arrangement is entirely alphabetical, although grouping related topics (for example, a chapter on animals, followed by amphibians, arthropods, birds, etc.) would have been more helpful. A well-done index allows easy access to subject terms as well as data on scientists, geographic areas, and species. Appendixes on careers in natural history and listings for several Web sites pertinent to each of the 30 topics, as well as a glossary, are included. The book would be a useful reference source for school, public, and undergraduate libraries, but it may be an unnecessary addition for libraries that already have several encyclopedia-like reference selections in earth science, evolution, genetics, and animal and plant life.

Library Journal Review

The authors of Skies of Fury: Weird Weather Around the World condense over four billion years of natural history, highlighting the important events and discoveries in the evolution of the physical earth and its organisms. The book is divided into 30 chapters covering topics ranging from bacteria to the universe. Averaging six pages long, each chapter provides a time line of major discoveries; description of expeditions, studies, discoveries, and major breakthroughs; and definitions of important terms related to the topic. Appendixes include a list of types of scientists, web sites for each topic, a glossary, and a bibliography of general information sources. Both the index and the cross references within the text are very useful. While much of the information here can be found in a general encyclopedia, this overview shows how scientific thought for each topic has changed over time. Written in an engaging style and directed at a general audience, this Guide will be most valuable for smaller public libraries that need a good survey of natural history.--Teresa Berry, Univ. of Tennesee Lib., Knoxville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-A history of the natural world from the beginnings of the universe to today. Thirty topical chapters, from "Amphibians" to "Volcanoes," each include a brief introduction, a time line, historical background on the subject including current research, and a detailed glossary. Sidebars contribute additional information. Average-quality, black-and-white photos, diagrams, and charts are scattered throughout. One appendix defines different careers in the field; another provides Web addresses. The writing is not as tight as an English teacher might demand, but is sufficiently clear. A mistake in the introduction of the first chapter ("amphibians were the first air-breathing animals to evolve onto land") is stated correctly later on: "amphibians-became the first air-breathing land vertebrates." There are also a few typographical errors. Nevertheless, the book is easy to use and its broad scope will satisfy students' requests for that elusive nonencyclopedia resource.-Nancy A. Andersen, OLC School, Erie, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Barnes-Svarney and Svarney have designed their book for librarians. Upon examination, one immediately understands why. Not quite an encyclopedia and not quite a textbook, this compendium of essays quickly introduces the reader to the main biological and geological aspects of natural history. They are arranged topically with each section beginning with a time line divided into prehistoric events and recent discoveries; readers wishing to know who, what, and when can quickly narrow their searches to other reference works or original studies. Text boxes, illustrations, and topic terms break up the text. For an instructor, this book helps to provide a quick overview of necessary lecture material; for an interested amateur, it helps as a guide in self-study. Two especially useful appendixes feature careers in natural history and a collection of Web sites that cater to naturalists. Short glossary; excellent index. This work will be useful to reference librarians but also to those seeking a quick overview of a topic. All levels. G. Stevens; University of New Mexico

Table of Contents

Amphibians Animals
Arthropods Atmosphere Bacteria and Viruses
Birds Classification of Organisms Climate and Weather
Cytology Dinosaurs Earth Earthquakes Evolution Extinction
Fish Fossils Fungi Genetics Geologic
Time Scale Humans Life
Solar System
Appendix A Careers in Natural History
Appendix B Natural History Sites on the World Wide Web