Mandibular Liberation and Other Obscure Movements

Andrew Sugden

  • Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature by Harry Greene
    California, 351 pp, $45.00, August 1997, ISBN 0 520 20014 4

The lengths to which people have gone to eradicate snakes are remarkable. A century ago, for example, a prolonged campaign was mounted against timber rattlesnakes in the north-eastern United States. Since this species tends to aggregate in large numbers in winter dens, eliminating them seemed quite feasible: the dens were variously dynamited and cemented over and timber rattlers have now disappeared from most of New England. Yet feelings run so high that in 1979 an employee of the US Office for Endangered Species was fired by the Secretary for the Interior for protesting against the presence of timber rattler meat on the menu of a Washington restaurant. Snake populations are almost everywhere in decline – which is why Harry Greene has set out to improve their image and enhance their appeal.

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