From the Cataloger's Desk: New acquaintances and new views on traditional ideologies

by Iris Lee on

Library News

Image of old Reading Room, Museum Library taken April 11, 2017 Reading Room, Museum Library, April 11, 2017
M. Shanley /© AMNH
Latin for "new acquaintances", Novitates is one of the American Museum of Natural History’s scientific publications. Since 1921 the Museum has published these sequentially numbered short papers that contain descriptions of new forms and reports in zoology, paleontology, and geology. 

This month three Novitates were published with new species of beetles and an early Eocene lizard described:

Cavioids, chinchilloids, and erethizontoids (Hystricognathi, Rodentia, Mammalia) of the early Miocene Pampa Castillo fauna, Chile
by Andrew J. McGrath, Jennifer Chick, Darin A. Croft, Holly E. Dodson, John J. Flynn, André R. Wyss
2022 February 8
American Museum Novitates no. 3984
Caviomorph rodents became important components of South American faunas after their Eocene arrival from Africa. Here we describe the cavioid, chinchilloid, and erethizontoid caviomorphs of the early Miocene Pampa Castillo fauna of southern Chile. 

Description of two new species of Apomecynini (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae, Lamiinae)
by Nayeli Gutiérrez, Antonio Santos-Silva
2022 February 8
American Museum Novitates no. 3985
Two new species of cerambycid beetles are described and illustrated: Morrisia skillmani from Guatemala and Adetaptera jejetama from Mexico. 

New diminutive Eocene lizard reveals high K-Pg survivorship and taxonomic diversity of stem xenosaurs in North America
by Krister T. Smith, Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar, Jonathan I. Bloch
2022 February 16 
American Museum Novitates no. 3986
We describe a new diminutive early Eocene lizard, Blutwurstia oliviae, gen. et sp. nov., on the basis of associated cranial and postcranial remains from the Clarks Fork Basin of Wyoming.


Read the rest for our new acquisitions covering coral reefs, Mayan culture, human evolution, and the biology of climate change (winning the best title of the month: Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid):

Archives and special collections as sites of contestation
edited by Mary Kandiuk
Explores the reinterpretation and resituating of archives and special collections held by libraries, examines the development and stewardship of archives and special collections within a social justice framework, and describes the use of critical practice by libraries and librarians to shape and negotiate the acquisition, cataloguing, promotion and use of archives and special collections. 

Coral reefs : a natural history
by Charles Sheppard
This stunningly illustrated book profiles the astonishing diversity of the world's coral groups, describing key aspects of their natural history and explaining why coral reefs are critical to the health of our oceans. Representative examples of corals have been selected to illustrate the broad range of species, and the book's lively and informative commentary covers everything from identification to conservation, making it an essential resource for marine biologists, divers, and anyone who is fascinated by these remarkable sea creatures.

Exuberant life : an evolutionary approach to conservation in Galápagos
by William H. Durham
This book synthesizes our understanding of the evolution of the curiously wonderful organisms of Galápagos, how they are faring in a world of human-induced change, and how evolution can help us with their conservation today.

Hurricane lizards and plastic squid : the fraught and fascinating biology of climate change
by Thor Hanson
In Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid, Thor Hanson tells the story of how nature-both plants and animals, from beech trees to beetles-are meeting the challenges of rapid climate change head-on, adjusting, adapting, and sometimes noticeably evolving... As global warming transforms and restructures the ecosystems in which these animals and others live, Hanson argues, we are forced to conclude that climate change will not have just one effect: Some transformations are beneficial. Others, and perhaps most, are devastating, wiping out entire species. One thing is constant: with each change an organism undergoes, the delicate balance of interdependent ecosystems is tipped, forcing the evolution of thousands more species, including us. To understand how, collectively, these changes are shaping the natural world and the future of life, Hanson looks back through deep time, examining fossil records, pollen, and even the tooth enamel of giant wombats and mummified owl pellets. Together, these records of our past tell the story of ancient climate change, shedding light on the challenges faced by today's species, the ways they will respond, and how these strategies will determine the fate of ecosystems around the globe.

Maya bonesetters : manual healers in a changing Guatemala
written and illustrated by Servando Z. Hinojosa
Scholarship on Maya healing traditions has focused primarily on the roles of midwives, shamans, herbalists, and diviners. Bonesetters, on the other hand, have been largely excluded from conversations about traditional health practitioners and community health resources. Maya Bonesetters is the first book-length study of bonesetting in Guatemala and situates the manual healing tradition within the current cultural context—one in which a changing medical landscape potentially threatens bonesetters’ work yet presents an opportunity to strengthen its relevance. Drawing on extensive field research in highland Guatemala, Servando Z. Hinojosa introduces readers to a seldom documented, though nonetheless widespread, variety of healer.

Mayalogue : an interactionist theory of indigenous cultures
by Víctor Montejo
Offers a strong critique of traditional anthropological studies from an Indigenous and postcolonial perspective. 

Subversive archaism : troubling traditionalists and the politics of national heritage
by Michael Herzfeld
In Subversive Archaism, Michael Herzfeld explores the challenge that "subversive archaism"-the ideology and practice of using state discourses of heritage and tradition against state authority-poses to governments both authoritarian and democratic. Building on the legacy of violence underlying all national independence movements, subversive archaists emphasize details of national history that reflect their own local values-rather than Eurocentric bureaucratic perspectives-to claim legitimacy for their defiance of official authority. 

The adorned body : mapping ancient Maya dress
edited by Nicholas Carter, Stephen D. Houston, and Franco D. Rossi.
Drawing on extant material culture, as well as sculpture, painting, glyphs, and other visual records, this edited volume examines the clothes and adornments of the Classic Maya, including who wore what, and why, and how these clothes/items were made; it further discusses how clothes, body paint, headgear, jewelry, etc. varied across the larger Maya region and how it evolved over the centuries that constitute the Classic period.

The dawn of everything : a new history of humanity
by David Graeber and David Wengrow.
For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike--either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a conservative reaction to powerful critiques of European society posed by Indigenous observers and intellectuals. Revisiting this encounter has startling implications for how we make sense of human history today, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery, and civilization itself. Drawing on pathbreaking research in archaeology and anthropology, the authors show how history becomes a far more interesting place once we learn to throw off our conceptual shackles and perceive what's really there. 

The language of hunter-gatherers
edited by Tom Gueldemann, Patrick McConvell, Richard A. Rhodes.
Hunter-gatherers are often portrayed as 'others' standing outside the main trajectory of human social evolution. But even after eleven millennia of agriculture and two centuries of widespread industrialization, hunter-gatherer societies continue to exist. This volume, using the lens of language, offers us a window into the inner workings of 21st century hunter- gatherer societies - how they survive and how they interface with societies that produce more. It challenges long-held assumptions about the limits on social dynamism in hunter-gatherer societies to show that their languages are no different either typologically or sociolinguistically from other languages. 

This entry was written by Iris Lee, Cataloging and Metadata Librarian.