Chicago's Field Museum can bid millions for a dinosaur fossil, but no amount of money can procure what the museum calls the Vanishing Treasures of the Philippine Rain Forest in its eponymous book ($24, paper) by Lawrence R. Heany and Jacinto C. Regaldo, Jr. In blunt words backed by images both breathtaking and shocking, they document the vanished and the in-danger-of-disappearing. Cases in point: The bare-backed fruit bat, once valued by islanders for its meat, extinct by the early 1980s (the only photographs are of cotton-stuffed museum specimens); and the variable dwarf-kingfisher, one of 172 bird species unknown elsewhere. In the end, the authors make explicit a point often lost when environmental debates become characterized simple mindedly as tussles between an industry and an endangered animal: The forest's greatest treasure is the forest itself.
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