Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 590s

590: The Search for the Last Undiscovered Animals by Karl P. N. Shuker


590: Shuker, Karl P. N. The Search for the Last Undiscovered Animals: The Beasts That Hide From Man. New York: Fall River Press, 2007. 294 pp. ISBN 978-1-4351-0131-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 590: Zoological sciences

Karl P. N. Shuker is a scientist, but also a little bit of a nut. Whereas mainstream science is concerned with exploring and finding new animals in a blind, happenstance manner, Shuker starts with the position that folklore and cultural tales about “monsters” are based in fact and these creatures can be found in the wild. In The Search for the Last Undiscovered Animals, he recounts his travels around the world, looking for the animals that have pervaded ancient texts and modern fears.

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597: American Alligator by Kelby Ouchley


597.984: Ouchley, Kelby. American Alligator: Ancient Predator in the Modern World. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2013. 108 pp. ISBN 978-0-8130-4913-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 590: Zoology
  • 597: Cold-blooded vertebrates
  • 597.9: Reptilia
  • 597.98: Crocodilia
  • 597.984: Alligatoridae

Kelby Ouchley’s American Alligator covers the evolution, biology, habitat, and behavior of the American alligator. Alligator mississippiensis, as it is known to the scientific crowd, lives in the southeastern coastal states (although it can get as far north as Arkansas) and hold an important place in the natural food chain. While human hunters have sought to reduce their numbers, there are approximately 4-5 million alligators in the United States. Ouchley walks the reader through the natural history and interesting science behind this misunderstood reptile. American alligators—much like actual Americans—have an incredibly diverse diet, feeding on animals as small as whirligig beetles and apple snails and as large as farm cattle and deer. The first part is devoted to the science of the alligator and the second part concerns human interaction, including folklore, hunting laws, and painful encounters. This book reads like a decent National Geographic special or a Discover Channel show (without all the needless sensationalism, though). If you’re a budding zoologist or even have a passing interest in reptiles or biodiversity, this is a nice quick book to wet your beak on.

598: Imperial Dreams by Tim Gallagher


598.7209721: Gallagher, Tim. Imperial Dreams: Tracking the Imperial Woodpecker Through the Wild Sierra Madre. New York: Atria, 2013. 254 pp. ISBN 978-1-4391-9152-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 590: Zoology
  • 598: Aves (Birds)
  • 598.7: Miscellaneous orders of land birds
  • 598.72: Piciformes
  • +09721: Northern states of Mexico

First, a confession: this book has no formal Dewey Decimal Classification number. As of March 8, 2013, this book does not have a full Cataloguing-In-Publication section on the copyright page nor is it listed in the catalog of the Library of Congress (my usual backup source). Tim Gallagher’s other woodpecker book—Grail Bird—which is about tracking an elusive species of woodpecker throughout the United States, is eerily similar to this one, so I used the same basic call number (598.72) and tacked on a geographic subsection. That being said, there is a case to be made for this being a general natural history book (DDC 508), but the research and the writing is specific enough to warrant classification among the birds.

Now, on to the book at hand.

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596: The Kingdom of Rarities by Eric Dinerstein


596: Dinerstein, Eric. The Kingdom of Rarities. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2013. 270 pp. ISBN 978-1-61091-195-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Pure Science
  • 590: Zoological sciences
  • 596: Chordata (vertebrates)

In the world of animals, there exists an interesting phenomena: of the millions of species on the planet, why are there so many with extremely limited population sizes? What processes lead to the limiting of animal groups? Why, for instance, is the Kirtland’s warbler so rare that an entire festival is planned around their sighting? Eric Dinerstein, a veteran of the World Wildlife Fund, travels the world to check out hotspots of animal rarity. In The Kingdom of Rarities, he posits that the animal kingdom can be divided into two groups—the Kingdom of the Common and the Kingdom of the Rare. It’s these rare species that help to drive biological research and that research is one of the many keys required to unlock the mysteries of how the world’s ecosystems function.

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599: Rats by Robert Sullivan

599.352: Sullivan, Robert. Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants. New York: Bloomsbury, 2004. 227 pp. ISBN 1-58234-385-3.

Dewey Construction:

  • 500: Science
  • 590: Zoology
  • 599: Mammals
  • 599.3: Miscellaneous placental mammals
  • 599.35: Rodents
  • 599.352: Common rats

Robert Sullivan has decided to write a natural history of the unlikeliest of creatures. They are everywhere, but no one seems all that interested in them. They have followed humanity to every continent they’ve explored, shaped the course of human history, and provided an avenue for scientific research. In spite of all this, they are considered the foulest, most wretched members of the animal kingdom. Today we talk about the common rat.

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591: Dark Banquet by Bill Schutt

591.53: Schutt, Bill. Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures. New York: Harmony Books, 2008. 293 pp. ISBN 978-0-307-38112-5.

Because we have to fit all of the sciences into the 500s, zoology has to make do with just the 590s. If you had a zoological library (which they do at many zoos), most of your books would have a 59x call number, making the whole system a bit useless. Most of the time, they categorize books by how they fall on the phylogenetic tree–mammal books over here, bird books over there, fishes in one section, and so on. But for a general library, the 590s are okay. Today’s book is about sanguivorous (blood-eating) behavior in animals. Since it’s a complete topic dealing with multiple animal phyla, it gets 591–Specific topics in the natural history of animals. 591.5 is animal behavior; 591.53 is predation.

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