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Fantastic Creatures And Their Future

The mother of all diversity: nature. Her most fantastic creatures and how they’re faring now.

An octopus (octopus vulgaris) lifts one of its tentacles in his bassin at the zoo in Basel, Switzerland Wednesday Aug. 12, 2009. (AP)

An octopus (octopus vulgaris) lifts one of its tentacles in his bassin at the zoo in Basel, Switzerland Wednesday Aug. 12, 2009. (AP)

The absolute wonders of nature can be painful to describe sometimes lately, when we have to consider them alongside our headlines of mass extinction and climate change.  And yet, if we don’t stare in wonder at nature’s fantastic creations, we may start to discount the importance of saving them.  Even start to disbelieve they’ve ever existed.

A new 21st century “bestiary’ takes us again to some of the most incredible creatures on the planet.  And meditates on their meaning.

This hour, On Point:  the book of barely imagined beings, from goblin shark to yeti crab to water bear.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Caspar Henderson, writer and environmental journalist. His new book is “The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary.” (@casparhenderson)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Review of Books: The Footed Void — “The closer you look at an octopus, the more you see. Consider its anatomy: the “head,” a sack resembling a human scrotum that can shift through the entire color spectrum; the three hearts pumping blood that contains copper rather than iron; the eyes so very like human ones and yet radically more elegant in design. In a celebrated poem Ogden Nash begs the octopus to tell him if its limbs are arms or legs.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Imagining the World — “The Anthropocene, as we are learning to call our present epoch, is a time of rapid transformation. Perhaps the only thing that can be said with any confidence is that the rate of change is faster than at any time in human history and perhaps the history of life itself. Atmospheric and ocean chemistry is changing, and species are being driven to extinction faster than at any time in millions of years.”

Excerpt: ‘The Book of Barely Imagined Beings’ by Caspar Henderson

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