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From the pages of 'The British Tarantula Society Journal'

BOOK REVIEW
Tarantula Spiders Tarantulas of the U.S.A.and Mexico by Andrew M. Smith

Peter Kirk, Editor, British Tarantula Society

Published by Fitzgerald Publishing ISBN 09510939-9-1


Once in a while a book is published within the world of arachnology which stands head and shoulders above the rest. This is just such a book. I was privileged to read the manuscript prior to publication, and was impressed with it at that stage, but now I've seen the finished product I truly believe that this is the best book on tarantulas written to date.

It is impossible to comprehend how much work has gone into researching this work. Hours spent in the British Museum of Natural History, pouring over jar after jar of preserved specimens, as well as work carried out in European and American Museum collections has made this book what it is. On top of this, hours more research in various libraries looking into the mythology and a detailed insight into the lives of the great arachnologists and collectors of yester-year responsible for shaping theraphosid taxonomy into what is today.

The first two chapters are highly readable and I found the information in "Arachnologists and Collectors" quite fascinating. I especially enjoyed the folklore and mythology chapter - a fascinating area sadly usually ignored by many people in the hobby - and an appetiser of a future Fitzgerald Publication already in the pipeline. "The Life-Cycle Of The Tarantula" is an account of Baerg's own research on the subject, along with reference to other behavioural studies carried out more recently by contemporary arachnologists. The "Illustrated Anatomical Guide And Glossary" is a fully illustrated guide graphically detailing the anatomy of the tarantula in an easy to follow guide, with a full glossary of the terminology used in the taxonomic descriptions. This is followed by detailed taxonomic keys, again fully illustrated and easy to follow, and then a description of every known species of North American and Mexican tarantula known to science, including twenty seven new species and two new genera. It also contains full taxonomic illustrations of every species with distribution maps and habitat drawings accompanying many of them. It is quite simply the most detailed reference book on this subject available. Accompanying the highly informative text are a total of 75 photographs, 25 of which are in full colour. The whole book is given a very classic feel with its hard-back, cloth-coated cover and gold-embossed titles and line drawings.

For the last few years I have been plagued by people asking me where they can get information on North American tarantulas. Well, here it is; the most comprehensive book on the subject you're likely to see this century. I would recommend that anyone who claims to be a serious tarantula enthusiast should buy this book now.

Copyright 'The British Tarantula Society', 1996,1997


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