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Centipedes of the British Isles - review

Review from Gordon Ramel's review page

Like Southwood and Leston's "Land and Water Bugs of the British Isles" Eason's "Centipedes of the British Isles" is one of those classic works that is practically unobtainable in the modern world. After reading it for the first time in 1988 I looked for it on many occasions over the next ten years in various Natural History book stores in England and Wales and never found a single copy for sale. It is a book I would still love to own a paper copy of, but while that seems unlikely to come about, now, thanks to Pisces Conservation, I can at least have it available for research in the form of their recently published CD version.

During the last years of the last century there were rumours that a new version of Eason's book was being released, but little seems to have actually happened. Eason's book was originally published in 1964. It is not surprising then that much new knowledge has been gained since then, however outside of the journals in a University library this is still unobtainable, and Eason's well written book is the best that is available. Having said that for those actually involved in survey work in the UK the Provisional Atlas of the Centipedes of the British Isles. by A.D. Barber and A.N. New published in 1999 will be a necessary addenda as we now know there are 41 and not 32 species in the UK as Eason believed, making his keys a little less useful than they once were.

Despite its datedness this book is still an extremely good introduction to the Chilopoda as it contains much fascinating and useful information. It consists of an introduction to the group followed by four chapters on the orders Geophilomorpha, Scolopendromorpha, Lithobiomorpha and Scutigeromorpha, an appendix on collecting and preserving techniques, a glossary and a variety of well drawn plates.

For the modern computer world a CD version of a book like this is an excellent option, particularly for the images, which a reproduced well here. It is cheap and good value for money, an undoubtedly useful resource for every zoology student, naturalist and or teacher in the UK who has students looking at the world around them.

Highly Recommended

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