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The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna Between Two Continents, Between Two Seas Paperback – 10 Feb 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; New edition edition (10 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226735389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226735382
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 4.3 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 514,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Jay Savage provides detailed biologies for all 396 species, identification keys, and fine general introductions to each major group. Illustrated with Michael and Patricia Fogden's magnificent photographs, The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica is both a major reference work and a thing of great beauty." - Adrian Barnett, New Scientist "Written for the enthusiast as well as for the field researcher, this work is an excellent reference source for each of the 396 species of amphibians and reptiles that can be found in Costa Rica. Includes complete full-color photographs of all known species in the region, as well as maps showing their distribution patterns.... A must-have book for any library with interests in this subject area." - J. Elliott, Southeastern Naturalist"

About the Author

Jay M. Savage is emeritus professor of biology at the University of Miami and adjunct professor of biology at San Diego State University. He is the author of Evolution, coauthor of Introduction to the Herpetofauna of Costa Rica, and the editor of Ecological Aspects of Development in the Humid Tropics.

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I AM SLOWLY walking along a trail at the La Selva Biological Station on the Atlantic lowlands of Costa Rica. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Mangham on 14 Aug. 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a masterpiece.
Despite trying to find aspects to criticize, it's proved impossible, unless one considers that the book is too large and heavy to be used as a field guide, a purpose for which it is not intended.
This book deserves to be in the possession of everyone who claims an interest in Natural History, be it in a professional or amateur status, even if that interest is not necessarily Costa Rica or Herpetology.
The book is a model of what every Natural History tome should be. Every morsel of information one could possibly hope for is contained within it's covers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 0 reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Between 2 continents and between 2 seas indeed 16 July 2002
By Timothy Paine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been waiting for this book for over a year and it was well worth it. With over 40 years of 'herping' Costa Rica Jay Savage needs no introduction. Neither do the photographers Michael and Patricia Fogden. Their stunning images of the tropics and its reptiles and amphibians are everywhere. Costa Rica currently has 178 amphibian species and 218 reptile species. Additionally, there are two introduced frogs and four introduced lizards. Savage covers them all. In fact the subtitle covers it moreso. Nearly everything related to herps between two continents and between two seas is covered.
Savage states he wrote this book for several audiences: the general reader with an interest in biology and the herpetofauna, the amateur or part-time naturalist with some background in biology, the tropical biology and herpetolgy student, and the professional biologist. I would say that Savage has succeeded wildly in hitting his broad mark. The book is in four parts. The first gives the layperson a general background of biology, classification, and systematics. This also serves as a good refresher for those familiar with the terms or who is new to learning them. Savage tells us how to observe, where to look, how to catch, and how to preserve as specimens or keep as study subjects the diverse herpetofauna in Costa Rica. Included is a brief political history of Costa Rica. This is just the first chapter. He then describes, in depth, Costa Rica's climate, geography, and numerous habitats and vegetation patterns. Then we learn how to use the meat of this book; the keys.
Parts two and three are the keys to all the known amphibians and reptiles, respectively, of Costa Rica. These keys, broken into appropriate chapters are incredible. We get family descriptions, species accounts, descriptions of eggs, larvae, and adults, location maps, body part nomenclature, countless figures including tadpoles, tadpole mouthparts, body patterns, and headscale counts. This may all sound arcane to the uninitiated but it is invaluable to experts in identifying individual species. Beginners could forego some of this information and focus on more broad details to identify if the snake they saw was poisonous or the frog outside their cabin was a treefrog. Conversely, if you wanted to know the difference between Sibon annulatus and Sibon longifrenis it is in here. The words and drawings are backed up by over 500 color plates detailing nearly every species mentioned. Incredible considering the rarity of some species. There are stunning plates of habitats but mostly they are smallish (6 to a page) but excellent and very descriptive images of the animals. Where else would you find such detailed images of elusive caecelians and salamanders alongside the extinct golden toad Bufo periglenes, numerous and nondescript rain frogs, all the lacertid lizards, snakes, turtles, and crocodilians? Any single part of this text would prove useful. It is hard to believe that so much has been accomplished.
Part four gives us ecological and geographical distribution patterns, evolution and development of herpetofauna, and information of plate movements and land bridge formation. Savage then ends with his explanation of why there are so many species between two continents and between two seas. Included are an addendum, a 17 page glossary, a 50 page literature cited section(!), and two indices. This tome is over 900 pages. There is a ton of information here and the reader can pick and choose what they need or want to know. I haven't read this book cover to cover, yet. And, I am not an expert herpetologist. There certainly could be errors in species accounts but that would most likely be left for a few select individuals to argue over. What I can say is that this text would have easily been too big of a project for it to succeed or prove useful. Somehow, Savage manages it in such a way as to be a benchmark for herpetological texts and guides. I honestly can not say when I've been this excited about a book, although Duellman's Hylid Frogs reprint is a good second. There is much more to this book. Want to know? Buy it.
What this book is not is a field guide in the classic sense. This is a large hefty book. Not likely to be packed in the luggage of a vacationing tourist. If you will be spending some time conducting work in this beautiful country then find something else to leave behind and bring the book. If you are like me then read it before you leave and after you return. You'll know where to look for specific animals and also find it useful in identifying prized photos weeks after returning. If you are looking for a classic herping field guide then try Twan Leenders new book. It is pocket sized and has lots of useful info. Better still own them both.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna between Two Continents, between Two Seas

by Jay M. Savage
14 Mar. 2007
By J. Knight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Super informative, I recommend getting the hard cover binding, as this book is huge and heavy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Almost an encyclopedia 2 Jan. 2008
By John Keifer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A large, heavy book, even in paperback. Good illustrations (mostly photos), a large quantity of information, not only on the reptiles and amphibians, but on Costa Rica itself, even to including a short political history. Great value for the price!
The book for Costa Rica 13 Feb. 2014
By Brad Hutchinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the book to get if you are planning a trip to Costa Rica and doing some Herp photography. Costa Rica is an excellent country to locate Reptiles and Amphibians and you can find them just about everywhere. Savages book is without question the most detailed at identifying and learning about these species. One issue I have found after a trip to Costa Rica is that the taxonomic names for species in Costa Rica are a mess. Most taxonomic names have changed since the publication of this book and most seem to have changed multiple times, it is a bit ridiculous. Plan to look up the current taxonomic names for any species you photograph while in Costa Rica because the name in this book is probably no longer correct.

As a tip when you photograph amphibians in Costa Rica if you want to identify them you will need to get both pictures of the animal above, below, and the feet if you plan to identify them. A lot of the frogs are almost identical with the only difference being something on the bottom of their feet or whether a certain toe is webbed. For this reason, I ended up with a lot of pictures that just had to label as unknown frog.

As a second tip this book is heavy at just under 7 lbs and you probably will not want to lug it with you to Costa Rica. There is a company named Rainforest Publications that makes small pamphlets for identification of different creatures (Frogs, Snakes, insects, etc) which are laminated and you can carry those in the field with you while in Costa Rica much easier than this book. You can buy those guides before your trip and save some money, but they are sold pretty much everywhere in the country if you forget including the airport.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Costa Rica, Reptile Place 11 Feb. 2003
By Patrick Resing - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I have spent a considerable amount of time in Costa Rica, and I found this book to be both accurate and interesting. The reptiles, the amphibians...they're all there. Costa Rica is a beautiful country, and this is a beautiful book. A+,
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