"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia
was written by Pliny the Elder
between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian
, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum
, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Dec 16, 2013 -
Did the disappearance of the elephant caused the rise of modern man?
Humans are not good at extracting energy from plants or converting protein to energy. Without fire to allow for better conversion, fat was a vital part of early man's diet. Elephants being slower and larger than many other prey was a prime hunting target. When the number of elephants declined, man had to find other sources. Hunting smaller, faster prey resulted in a change in human evolution. Man became lighter and their brain size increased to handle the requirements for hunting enough animals to provide the necessary fat.
posted by 2manyusernames
on Dec 14, 2011 -
Agony and Ivory.
"Highly emotional and completely guileless, elephants
mourn their dead—and across Africa, they are grieving daily as demand from China’s 'suddenly wealthy' has driven the price of ivory
to $700 a pound or more. With tens of thousands of elephants
being slaughtered each year for their tusks, raising the specter of an 'extinction vortex,' Alex Shoumatoff travels from Kenya to Seattle to Guangzhou, China, to expose those who are guilty in the massacre
—and recognize those who are determined to stop it."
posted by homunculus
on Jul 16, 2011 -
Alf Leif Erickson is the Captain of the American Screw Tuskers Elephant Polo team . Alf is a retired attorney and former law professor from Florida. This alone doesn't make much of a post, but, you guessed it, there more, sometimes NSFW, inside..... [more inside]
posted by HuronBob
on Apr 10, 2008 -
Gregory Colbert's Ashes and Snow
has been linked to twice before on Metafilter. However, you can now view 10 minutes
of his film as part of his Ted Talk--it's the most stunning nature footage I've ever seen. In the talk he also mentions a new concept he's developing called Animal Copyright
, which I think is long overdue.
posted by dobbs
on Jan 2, 2007 -
Looking for a new religion? Something to save your soul? Do you like Elephants? Then consider becoming a Babarist
, a new religion that is seeking to spread the word of Babar
. Followers seek to influence and enhance every facet of their lives by asking "What would Babar do
posted by Effigy2000
on Oct 8, 2006 -
Eine Kleine Naughtmusik
[pdf]. Great article on music by nonmusicians
from Dave Soldier
- the guy that brought you People's Choice Music
[a musical work that will be unavoidably and uncontrollably liked by 72 +/- 12% of listeners
], the Tangerine Awkestra
[These children met in a schoolroom, where they listened to records by Ornette Coleman and Roscoe Mitchell of the Art Ensemble of Chicago played by their teacher, Katie Down. The children said they could do that. Down said they could NOT. The kids said can TOO. Down said could NOT and brought her own collection of musical instruments to school. The kids immediately became Artists and formed a band.
] and of course the now infamous Thai Elephant Orchestra
posted by nylon
on Jan 3, 2006 -
Goodbye, Norma Jean.
Norma the elephant was killed by a stroke of lightning. Seventy years earlier, though, Topsy
was electrocuted by Thomas Edison, to "demonstrate" the danger of alternating current. Only a few years later, Mary
was sentenced to death by hanging, to the amusement and edification of onlookers. It's rough being an elephant in America.
posted by SPrintF
on Jun 13, 2004 -
Freak Show: Jumbo In The New World
"In 1903, American inventor Thomas Edison arranged to have an elephant publicly electrocuted in Luna Park. Up to that point Edison, in his bitter campaign to discredit the electrical theories of George Westinghouse, had been content to publicly electrocute cats and dogs. When Topsy, an enraged circus elephant, trampled to death its third trainer in three years, Edison offered to "execute" the animal in a way that would demonstrate once and for all his belief in the dangers of alternating current. The electrocution of this elephant was filmed and apparently the footage can still be viewed at the Coney Island Museum."
posted by quonsar
on Sep 15, 2003 -
Animals thought extinct found in remote Cambodian jungle:
British scientists have found a wilderness in the Cardamom region of Cambodia where exotic species, some though to be
extinct, have been found. These include the Siamese
crocodile, the wolf snake (a new species so named because of
its dog-like fangs), large populations of tigers and Asian
elephants, and the gower, a forest cow. Ironically, the habitat was protected from significant human
intrusion because it was a longtime Khmer Rouge stronghold
and also because routes lead to and from it are landmined.
posted by jhiggy
on Oct 5, 2000 -