How long can a fly fly?

That is the title of a book by Lars-Åke Janzon, with the subtitle “175 Answers to Possible and Impossible Questions about Animals”. Oddly, that particular question appears to be evaded in the book itself, but most of the 175 questions seem to be addressed accurately. This is one of those books you keep around and read bits from now and then…perhaps you bring it on a trip and the tweens use it to create a game show or perhaps you keep it in your Life Science classroom and use it to generate discussion or test questions, or perhaps you just thumb through a fifth of it or so before going to bed, then a few months later you wonder “where the hell did I learn that thing that just came into my head…”

How Long Can a Fly Fly?: 175 Answers to Possible and Impossible Questions about Animals‘s author, Janzon, is the “Biologist In Charge” (of answering questions) at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, and this book is inspired by the many questions he fields as part of his stewardship of public knowledge about Natural History. For this reason he focuses somewhat on the widespread myths people seem to pick up and the common questions people tend to ask.

Because the author is working in Swedish there is both a Swedish and a European slant to some of the topics, which is usually not important when addressing general principles, but is sometimes a bit too focused for the non-Swedish reader. For instance, I’d much rather know about snakes in the US, in particular the upper Midwest, than the Swedish viper, when it comes to practical advice. Also, there are some interesting language issues; did you know that Swedes (or Europeans?) call “purring” of a cat “spinning”? I didn’t. But now I do!

This is a definite stocking stuffer for the budding naturalist or Life Science teacher.

Oh, by the way, do you happen to know: if a mosquito is hit by a drop of rainwater, will it die?

Comments

  1. #1 Michael McCabe
    Pretora, South Africa
    December 5, 2012

    So what’s the answer?

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    December 5, 2012

    Michael, I can only answer that question in relation to a fly flying into the veldt.