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KS Press: Turtles crawl into own class

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Posted by: W von Papineäu at Tue Aug 24 07:45:35 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papineäu ]  
   

UNIVERSITY DAILY KANSAN (Lawrence, Kansas) 20 August 10 Turtles crawl into class of their own, according to new book (Kelly Stroda)
Thirty-eight species of snakes slither around in the state of Kansas. But don’t worry — only five of these are venomous.
Information like this can be found in the book “Amphibians, Reptiles and Turtles in Kansas.”
“That’s why we wrote the book,” said Joe Collins, senior author and adjunct herpetologist with the Kansas Biological Survey. “We wanted to tell you a little bit about these animals and get you a little more accustomed that there are all of these harmless animals out there that look a little more frightening than they are.” For the past 17 years, Joe and his wife, Suzanne, have been working together on the book. The Collinses worked with another author, Travis W. Taggart, associate curator of herpetology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays. The book includes all 99 types of amphibians, reptiles and turtles in Kansas along with color maps showing where they live.
Joe and Suzanne both worked for the University of Kansas for 30 years. Joe retired in 1997 from the Natural History Museum, where he was an editor and herpetologist. Suzanne retired a year later from the School of Education, where she was a teacher certification officer.
“So much has changed in the profession of biology in terms of how we define biological diversity that this book will be quite different than our previous books on the subject,” Joe said. Proof of this lies even in the title of this book. In years prior, turtles were considered to be a type of reptile. This book puts them in their own class.
“All of the evidence that’s now in modern, molecular biology says that they’re not related to snakes and lizards,” Joe said.
Suzanne took nearly 500 photographs for the book displaying these animals mostly in their natural habitats. She has been taking wildlife photos for 25 years.
But taking wildlife photos isn’t always easy.
“It’s really a two-person job. Joe really controls the animal and my job is to take care of focusing and lighting and backgrounds and that sort of thing,” Suzanne said. “He really gets the attention of the animal so I can move around and take photos of it.”
Rafe Brown, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, said this new book would be useful in teaching his classes.
“This volume will help me personally in teaching Kansas students about the state’s natural heritage,” Brown said.
The book was financially sponsored by a number of businesses and organizations. These include the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Touchstone Energy, Westar Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
“We hope that the people of Kansas enjoy it,” Joe said.
Turtles crawl into class of their own, according to new book


   

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