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Their Blood Runs Cold

Adventures with Reptiles and Amphibians

Whit Gibbons with a foreword by Eugene P. Odum

Publication Year: 2013

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword to First Edition

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pp. ix-x

Recently a group of students and faculty were discussing what it takes to be a successful scientist. Granting that innate talent and higher education are important, all agreed that enthusiasm for one's subject is an essential ingredient. If one enjoys delving deeply into some aspect of the world in which we live, that person ...

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pp. xi-xv

Their Blood Runs Cold: Adventures with Reptiles and Amphibians was published by the University of Alabama Press thirty years ago. I held my first book signing at a bookstore in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I signed only two books that day, neither of them was to a herpetologist. The books were purchased by two of my dad’s ...

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pp. xvii-xix

The indebtedness one has to others in undertaking a book is great. My utmost gratitude goes to my family-to my wife Carol for constant support and a rather unusual tolerance; to Laura, Jennifer, Susan Lane, and Michael for their special contributions; to my mother Janie, my father Bob, and my sister Anne and her ...

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pp. 1-4

Two places in the United States have streams so hot that a person would die trying to swim them. One is Yellowstone National Park with its geysers, thermal springs, and the Firehole River. The other is more than two thousand miles away on the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Plant (SRP) in South Carolina. The SRP has no ...

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Chapter 1: Reptiles and Amphibians: The Field for Herpetology

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pp. 5-18

A reinforcement to me that ignorance about amphibians and reptiles in general and about snakes in particular prevails at all levels of education came at midnight in a small South Carolina hospital in July 1971. The scenario began four hours earlier with a phone call to my house. Dave, an undergraduate research participant ....

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Chapter 2: The Snakes: Once Upon a Bushmaster

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pp. 19-37

The first snake I can remember was a green snake that lay outstretched on the largest limb of a redbud tree in Alabama. We smashed it many times. To death. Making sure. Taking no chances. I don't really think I cried that night, but I do remember that I didn't feel right afterward. I distinctly remember that at five years ...

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Chapter 3: The Turtles: Turtles May Be Slow but They’re 200 Million Years Ahead of Us

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pp. 38-54

The river water was rushing wildly past as we climbed into the twelve-foot pram. The consequence of pushing away from a river shore before you start your outboard motor is a lesson you are constantly retaught if you work around rivers. But that night I wasn't thinking when I pushed off. A remark from Don Tinkle at ...

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Chapter 4: The Crocodilians: How to Catch an Alligator in One Uneasy Lesson

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pp. 55-72

''You know," I said with seeming casualness, "we could run across an alligator at- Steed Pond." "Oh yeah," said Morton, suspicion creeping into his voice. Apparently his first day as my technician at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory was turning out differently than he had expected. Most technicians wear ...

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Chapter 5: The Lizards: When Blowguns and Nooses Have Unusual Uses

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pp. 73-83

I was on my back, using my elbows to move feet-first down the sloping sand floor. I was fourth in the six-man line of back crawlers. My headlamp was of little use, for when I stared directly upward the ceiling was fewer than six inches above my forehead. The passage was perhaps three feet in width. Narrow. Very ...

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Chapter 6: The Salamanders: Ohio State 7, Alabama 3, Salamanders 0

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pp. 84-95

Imagine our excitement. Very green graduate students, whipped into a froth about being participants in the capture of an animal of which only one specimen had ever been found. And with not just a species were we concerned, but instead with an entire genus. The generic name was Phaeognathus. Phaeognathus hubrichti it was ...

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Chapter 7: The Frogs and Toads: Who’s Watching the Frogs?

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pp. 96-104

The day was cool, so scattered patches of late morning fog still rose from the places where water stood. Reaching a height about half that of the taller cypresses, the smoky mist was greeted by a gentle breeze from the south and slowly drifted upward and vanished. Rays of sunlight that had found a passage through the black cypress ...

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Chapter 8: Techniques in Herpetology: To Catch a Cooter

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pp. 105-118

The people and organizations who support ecological research usually do not realize how much time must go into the failures before a successful technique is developed. It seems to be accepted practice in medicine to try everything until we develop the cure and then once the cure is found to decide the efforts were all ...

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Chapter 9: More Techniques: To Find a Mud Turtle

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pp. 119-133

I still remember the day we discovered where the eastern mud turtle spends the winter. Dave Bennett, Chris Franson, and I were riding across an abandoned cotton field in a government jeep. Dave drove while Chris and I watched the dial and listened to the Geiger counter. The long boom with the sodium iodide crystal ...

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Chapter 10: The Future of Reptiles and Amphibians: Can We Find a Hiding Place, Too?

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pp. 134-142

The beam from my headlight picked up the yellow chin, held aloof and arrogant above the black swamp mud. Cottonmouth moccasins either know they are poisonous or at least know they are special in some way-because every one you see, whether coiled on a rotting cypress stump or crossing a logging road through a southern ...

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Chapter 11: Teaching the Public: How to Hold an Audience with a Snake

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pp. 143-146

Snakes are a reliable means of getting someone's attention for whatever reason. Someone giving a talk on the ecology of snakes invariably captures the interest of a class of students by pulling a shiny black kingsnake with bright yellow bands out of a cloth sack. Important businessmen immediately will follow your orders to ...

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pp. 147-150

If I had written the prologue to this thirtieth-anniversary edition of Their Blood Runs Cold when the book was first published, I would now be considered prescient. Had I been able to foretell the advent and subsequent influence of molecular genetics, accurately predict the amazing increase in recognized species of reptiles ...

Selected References in Herpetology

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pp. 151-161

Further Reading in Herpetology, 2012

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pp. 163-168


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pp. 169-175

E-ISBN-13: 9780817386993
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817357511

Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 30th Anniversary Edition