Ecological science, for reasons not clear to me, lacks the lyric eloquence of geology. (Dinosaur costume)Ecological terms rarely have the color or dynamism of such geologisms as “rift,” “thrust fault,” “mountainbuilding revolution,” “hogback.” Ecology tends rather toward the gray-flannel-suit metaphors of marketplace and commerce: “resource partitioning,” “energy budgets,” and “investment.” But modern ecological theory has given us one quite lovely term—the “guild.” The clockmakers’ guild in sixteenth-century Basle protected the interests of all the makers of timepieces in that Swiss Protestant city. Guild councils enforced quality control and regulated the entry of new artisans into the urban market. (realistic dinosaur costume)An ecology ical guild is all the species that follow a particular way of making a living in local habitats. Hence the top-predator guild of the Serengeti is filled today by lion and leopard, cheetah and spotted hyena. Working the same landscape is the small-predator-scavenging guild, the golden jackal, black-backed jackal, Egyptian vulture, and griffon vulture. Reviewing our ecological census figures, we would be compelled to conclude that most tropical guilds are dominated by the “cold blooded” clans. In the small semi-aquatic guild of predators, turtles are masters. The large-predator aquatic guild is firmly in the hands of a crocodilian cartel.
I would hope that by now in our census through the vertebrate guilds the delusions of mammal superiority would be shaken. But we are not even half done. Remember, all the world’s nonflying mammals add up to 3,000 species.(realistic dinosaur model) There are now, by conservative estimate, 3,000 lizard species and 2,700 of snakes. European culture and its American offspring are more ignorant about lizards than about any other great divisions in the “coldblooded” clans. Lizards don’t abound in the cities of the Temperate Zone that served as cradles for Western science. Heidelberg, Paris, London, (animatronic dinosaur)New Haven—all are great university towns, but all languish in a state of lizard impoverishment. Go to school in one of the Ivy League Colleges, take a field ecology course, and you will count yourself lucky to catch a glimpse of a little brown skink, speeding along a sunlit pathway. Turtles, frogs, salamanders, and snakes all outnumber lizard species in upper New York State or Massachusetts. Too bad, because the natural economy in the species- rich tropical world supports a dazzling lacertilian display.