Ted Levin

Commentator

Ted Levin is a nature writer and photographer. His latest book is America's Snake: The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake, University of Chicago Press, May, 2016.

Levin: Merlin Watching

May 18, 2015

My father was a passionate golfer. Throughout my childhood he played on weekends, sometimes thirty-six holes in a day. When he retired in 1982, he played five days a week, until he died in ‘97. And though I’ve never cared much for the game myself, lately I’ve been spending a lot of time on a golf course - or to be more precise the fifteenth fairway at the Hanover Country Club.

Levin: Spotted Turtles

Apr 28, 2015
Dirk Stevenson of the Orianne Society

Of the nearly 330 species of turtles, none is more beautiful than the spotted turtle - itinerant visitor to vernal pools, flooded meadows, swamps, and clear, slow-moving streams. But most likely you’ve never seen one because Vermont has three separate populations. They’re as dark as obsidian with bright yellow spots on the black upper shell, neck, and head, in distinct patterns used by biologists to identify individual turtles.

Levin: Childs Pond

Apr 10, 2015

Childs Pond, a small, deep, kettle hole lake in East Thetford, is the beneficiary of a block of ice that separated thousands of years ago from the retreating glacier.

I’ve been anticipating spring, despite lingering ice in my veins. Despite the wind, the snow, the forty-three consecutive days of below freezing temperatures, I see and hear signs of an embryonic season.

Levin: The Walnut Tree

Dec 3, 2014

Twenty-eight years ago, when my wife was pregnant with our first son, she decided that we should collect walnuts from a large, sweeping black walnut tree that grew on a nearby dairy farm. Linny had eyed the tree for several years, or, perhaps more aptly coveted it. Pregnancy somehow galvanized her into action and I became her willing accomplice.

Levin: Sue Moves On

Aug 28, 2014

At 90% complete, Sue is the largest, most intact and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever found. The Chicago Field Museum, after using an industrial CAT scan to examine the fossil, purchased Sue for $8.6 million at auction. Once the bones were painstakingly removed from their stone overcoat, each was cast in plastic. The fossil itself was assembled for exhibit in Chicago, and exact, full-size replicas of the nearly complete fossilized skeleton were created to tour around the United States and the world. One of them has been on display at the Montshire Museum in Norwich all summer.

The name deer tick - although perpetuated by the media – hasn’t been in vogue among arachnid cognoscenti since 1993, when biologists determined that the vector for Lyme disease was not two separate species - northern and southern - but a single widespread species. And since the southern form had been classified first as the blacklegged tick, the rules of scientific nomenclature determined that as the name for the entire species. Of course, taxonomy quickly devolves to a footnote if you’re afflicted with Lyme disease.

Levin: The Bounty Hunter

Apr 30, 2014

On June 10, 1995, snake hunter Rudolf Komarek, led a camera crew across a ridge west of the Susquehanna River near Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. It was the opening day of rattlesnake season and the crew was there to film Komarek capture two pregnant timber rattlesnakes for a CNN documentary.

At that time, the bag limit in Pennsylvania was one snake per day. The following March, immediately after the documentary aired nationally, Komarek was arrested for exceeding the state’s bag limit. It was his seventh bust in Pennsylvania.

Our knowledge of genetic inheritance expanded exponentially with the completion of the Human Genome Project, an international, thirteen-year collaboration that unraveled the human genetic code by sequencing our cellular DNA. Teasing apart our DNA code was a process of inner discovery and one of our greatest feats of exploration - right up there with the voyages of Magellan.

Neil Roach, a post-doc at George Washington University, was the lead researcher in a recent study published in the journal Nature that recorded the throwing of collegiate baseball players.

Levin: Oriole Nest

Jun 20, 2013

The Ompompanoosuc River has two branches: East and West, which arise on separate hills in Vershire. The West branch passes through Strafford; the East through West Fairlee. They merge behind Union Village Dam in Thetford Center.

Levin: Snake Surgery

Jun 3, 2013

I imagine that seeing an anesthetized timber rattlesnake on veterinarian Scott MacLachlan’s operating table in Poultney must be a little like seeing Pavarotti in his pajamas.

Levin: Southern Trip

Apr 24, 2013

At first glance, the pinelands of southern Georgia appear to be the exact opposite of the hardwoods of Vermont. Along the coastal plain west of Savannah, Georgia is flat, sandy, and fire prone.

Levin: The Bear Man

Jan 22, 2013

Pages