Barefoot on Lava: The Journals and Correspondence of Naturalist R.C.L. Perkins in Hawai'i, 1892-1901

Overview

The Hawaiian O'o was last seen in 1934; the Hawaiian Mamo in 1898; the Black Mamo in 1907. Robert Cyril Layman Perkins was one of the last to see these great Hawaiian forest birds alive when, at only 25 years of age, he was sent to the Hawaiian Islands to survey the land animals (mainly birds, insects, and snails) for the Royal Society and the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1892. His exploits and the results of his explorations soon became legendary and remain today, a foundation of ...
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Overview

The Hawaiian O'o was last seen in 1934; the Hawaiian Mamo in 1898; the Black Mamo in 1907. Robert Cyril Layman Perkins was one of the last to see these great Hawaiian forest birds alive when, at only 25 years of age, he was sent to the Hawaiian Islands to survey the land animals (mainly birds, insects, and snails) for the Royal Society and the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1892. His exploits and the results of his explorations soon became legendary and remain today, a foundation of knowledge for Hawaiian biologists. Despite his youth, he persevered over the frequent hardships of extreme weather and rugged terrain. For example, after only a few weeks collecting in the Kona region of the Big Island, his shoes became torn to shreds by the sharp a'a lava. Undaunted, he continued onward, but barefoot. And much to the chagrin of his colleagues and family back home in England, this became his normal footwear for the next 9 years of fieldwork in the islands.

The journals and correspondence of Perkins during his collecting years from 1892-1901 are assembled here together for the first time. They offer the reader a glimpse into not only the personality of the man, but also the details of his observations of insects and forest birds, and the localities in which he collected. Augmenting these notes are anecdotes and accounts of friends and colleagues, including the royal court of Queen Lili'uokalani. His journals also put his discoveries in context with a time when travel was mainly by foot or horse and communication by post to his patrons took months to travel from Hawai'i to England.

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Meet the Author

Neal L. Evenhuis has lived in Hawai'i for more than 30 years and is currently Chairman of the Natural Sciences Department at Bishop Museum. In his career as a research entomologist conducting fieldwork throughout the Pacific, he has published over 350 scientific articles including seven books and has described over 500 species new to science.
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