This is my chosen for its cover book. At first, I thought it was a dancing dinosaur. I then wondered why the dinosaur was tip-toeing across the road. I then read the title. Oooo-kay. This is going to be. Interesting. Hopefully. I was afraid it was going to be very dull and academic. It is not. The author makes sure you are right there along for the journey. She presents her story just as that, a story. The facts are there, but you might be surprised how hard it is to put it down.
As I put as my title, how can a book about roadkill be funny? In the long run, there is not a lot of obvious humor, but from the first page of Heather L. Montgomery’s Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill, I was laughing, chuckling and ewwwing (while laughing). She knows how to catch your attention from the start. The casual conversational tone is what makes this book such an easy read.
Without going into a lot of gross detail (but it is there. She does not shy away from talking about how she processed a fox she found), Montgomery shows us what roadkill is, theories on why animals become roadkill, the types of road pizza all over world (yes there is at least one eatery that serves up the findings; not to mention I grew up hearing the term used about porcupines, skunks and squirrels found on the side of the road), facts about the animals and how scientists (and other people) are learning about animals (a young boy who builds the animals bodies from bones on up learned about animals and which have collar bones), habitat, how people impact that habitat, how they can be used to help humans, cancers and even what defines DNA and what defines different species.
The part about the Tasmania Devils and their mouth cancer is FANTASTIC. (Gross, but fantastic). Scientists have learned that this cancer can actually be passed from host to host! Also, the fact that not just scientists are studying the roadkill but all sorts of people: from kids (Montgomery mentioned that school children have helped their teachers and local universities by studying the finds; while other people gather and send to various places) right up to amateur students (like Montgomery) is cool. Scientists only have so much time, resources, people and space to keep said resources. Also, Montgomery covers how one state pays zoos to gather the road kill to be used as food for the animals (one place she mentioned gets $25 per deer they feed to their lions).
Also, she spoke with (and is a) taxidermists. Some of which are using the bodies to make art (Montgomery found a company that sold a road-kill-taxidermy-mouse that was advertised as a Mother’s Day gift). She mentions how a new species of bird was found due to the fact a wing of bird was found. The information she found was never ending, it seemed.
If you are squeamish at all do not read this book. If you have a weak stomach do not read at lunch in your work break room (I eventually turned normal color again). If you are an animal lover (as Montgomery is, therefore, she shows great respect for the animals she talks about) you might want to learn about the messier side of the natural world.
A main issue she makes sure she covers a couple different times is: DO NOT try this at home. Animals can carry diseases, fleas, are messy and much more. Therefore, yes, look but do not touch the next time you find a chicken (deer, turtle, bird, salamander, coyote, fox, rabbit) that did not cross the road.