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Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of…
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Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures (2008)

by Bill Schutt

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A fascinatingly detailed description of all known obligate sanguivores written with wit and a puckish humour. If the thought of bedbugs, vampire bats, and blood sucking leeches gives you the willies, then this book is not for you. Patricia J. Wynne’s exquisite drawings made even the vampire bats look charming. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Apr 14, 2017 |
What a fun, albeit squirm-inducing book. The chapters about bats were easier to read than the chapter about bedbugs. *shudder* Schutt is genuinely funny and irreverent. The book is a delight, if you like this sort of thing. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Vampire bats and other blood sucking animals are the main characters showcased. Instead of examining all creatures that feed on blood, the focus is on a few including vampire bats, leeches, chiggers/ticks, beg bugs and even medical blood letting. As I read, it became obvious that the author has a passion for vampire bats. I found that this section was the one I enjoyed the most and was the most in depth. I wish that the author would write a book primarily based on these fascinating bats. Family stories are peppered throughout the text. These stories are not necessarily related to the subject at hand. I found them to be amusing but some may find them distracting. There are a few sections that were written at a very technical level, such as explaining what elements serve as the building blocks of blood. I became very confused with all the vocabulary tossed about like granulocyte without mentioning which type of blood cell was granulocyte. Overall, this book is an amusing read for someone who is interested in the above mentioned animals but if you want a book that covers a more variety of animals then this may not be the book for you. ( )
  corcra | Feb 10, 2012 |
This was a very quick and interesting read on sanguivorous (blood-eating) animals. He concentrates a lot on vampire bats (his research area), but does a lot of good research on ticks, mites, bed bugs, vampire finches, and the candiru. If you have a scientific bent and a bit of a dark sense of humor, then this one's for you.

http://lifelongdewey.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/591-dark-banquet-by-bill-schutt/ ( )
  NielsenGW | Feb 5, 2012 |
Oh, finally, a vampire book worth reading! When was the last time a worthy vampire book was published? I certainly can't remember, but here is one, finally! The best part about Dark Banquet is that it's far creepier than any other vampire book you can find, because the blood feeders in this book are real!

Bill Schutt is a bat biologist and seems to have a particular fondness for the vampiric variety. His enthusiasm is apparent from the beginning, when he retells his experiences in Trinidad observing bats in their natural environment (like abandoned military buildings). His book is very readable, and is intended as a casual book for the curious, but that doesn't mean there isn't a wealth of information here, and not only about bats either. Leeches, chigger mites, and ticks make an appearance as well, along with a few other sanguivorous delights in case that wasn't enough for you. Aside from a brief dip into molecular biology about the inner workings of the circulatory system, which only amounts to about 15-20 pages and can be skimmed if the reader chooses, all of it is very readable and accessible.

Ultimately, and as you might expect, the book stresses the importance of these creatures. While they have been stigmatized because of their penchant for consuming blood, in the end you will find they are not as scary as you might have thought, and you may very well find yourself defending them. They have led to very important scientific discoveries (like blood thinners to help with blood clots) and while it is important to remember they can be vectors for dangerous and deadly diseases, all-out eradication of these important pieces of nature is rarely the right course of action, regardless of how 'creepy' you might think they are. ( )
3 vote Ape | Aug 3, 2011 |
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Epigraph
I know our late King, though not apt to believe more than his neighbors, had no doubt of the existence of vampires and their banquets on the dead. - Horace Walpole, commenting in a letter on the beliefs of King George II
The blood is the life - Deuteronomy 12:23
Dedication
For Marie Grace Schutt and William A. Schutt Sr.

... and all my Aunt Roses
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A pair of chickens scratched nervously at the dusty ground beneath the grapefruit tree, careful to avoid the small puddles of coagulated blood.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307381129, Hardcover)

For centuries, blood feeders have inhabited our nightmares and horror stories, as well as the shadowy realms of scientific knowledge. In Dark Banquet, zoologist Bill Schutt takes readers on an entertaining voyage into the world of some of nature’s strangest creatures—the sanguivores. Using a sharp eye and mordant wit, Schutt makes a remarkably persuasive case that vampire bats, leeches, ticks, bed bugs, and other vampires are as deserving of our curiosity as warmer and fuzzier species are—and that many of them are even ­worthy of conservation.
Schutt takes us from rural Trinidad to the jungles of Brazil to learn about some of the most reviled, misunderstood, and marvelously evolved animals on our planet: vampire bats. Only recently has fact begun to disentangle itself from fiction concerning these remarkable animals, and Schutt delves into the myths and misconceptions surrounding them.

Examining the substance that sustains nature’s vampires, Schutt reveals just how little we actually knew about blood until well into the twentieth century. We revisit George Washington on his deathbed to learn how ideas about blood and the supposedly therapeutic value of bloodletting, first devised by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, survived into relatively modern times. Schutt also tracks the history of medicinal leech use. Once employed by the tens of millions to drain perceived excesses of blood, today the market for these ancient creatures is booming once again—but for very different reasons.

Among the other blood feeders we meet in these pages are bed bugs, or “ninja insects,” which are making a creepy resurgence in posh hotels and well-kept homes near you. In addition, Dark Banquet details our dangerous and sometimes deadly encounters with ticks, chiggers, and mites (the ­latter implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder—currently devastating honey bees worldwide). Then there are the truly weird—vampire finches. And if you thought piranha were scary, some people believe that the candiru (or willy fish) is the best reason to avoid swimming in the Amazon.

Enlightening, alarming, and appealing to our delight in the bizarre, Dark Banquet peers into a part of the natural world to which we are, through our blood, inextricably linked.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A witty and informative look inside the world of animals that feed on blood examines the ecological roles and life cycles of the vampire bat, leeches, ticks, mites, bedbugs, and a feared vampire fish known as the candiru.

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