Sunday, December 18, 2016

Catching up on some quotes from Empire of the Sun (1984) and pic from Shanghai visit

Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard (1984)

His father was physically a strong man, but Jim knew that it was the kind of strength that came from playing tennis.

Jim had little idea of his own future—life in Shanghai was lived wholly within an intense present—but he imagined himself growing up to be like Mr. Maxted. Forever accompanied by the same glass of whiskey and soda, or so Jim believed, Mr. Maxted was the perfect type of the Englishman who had adapted himself to Shanghai, something that Jim’s father, with his seriousness of mind, had never really done.

He always looked forward to the evening drives through the center of Shanghai, this electric and lurid city more exciting than any other in the world.

Plant classification was an entire universe of words; every weed in the camp had a name. Names surrounded everything; invisible encyclopedias lay in every hedge and ditch.

None of the Japanese at Lunghua Airfield had given the aircraft the briefest glance. Fires were still burning in the hangars by the pagoda, and a cloud of steam rose from the bombed engineering sheds.

His mother and father were agnostics, and Jim respected devout Christians in the same way that he respected people who were members of the Graf Zeppelin Club or shopped at the Chinese department stores, for their mastery of an exotic foreign ritual.

We’re the Lunghua Sophomores, We’re the girls every boy adores, C.A.C. don’t mean a thing to me, For every Tuesday evening we go on a spree . . . . As he crossed the parade ground toward E Block, Jim paused to watch the Lunghua Players rehearsing their next concert party on the steps of Hut 6. The leader of the troupe was Mr. Wentworth, the manager of the Cathay Bank, whose exaggerated and theatrical manner fascinated Jim. He enjoyed the amateur dramatics, when everyone involved was at the center of public attention.

We’ve debates and lectures too, And concerts just for you . . . .


Rumor and confusion had exhausted everyone in Lunghua. During July the American air attacks had become almost continuous. Waves of Mustangs and Lightnings flew in from the air bases on Okinawa, strafing the airfields around Shanghai, attacking the Japanese forces concentrated at the mouth of the Yangtze. From the balcony of the ruined assembly hall Jim witnessed the destruction of the Japanese military machine as if he were watching an epic war film from the circle of the Cathay Theater. The apartment houses of the French Concession were hidden by hundreds of smoke columns that rose from burning trucks and ammunition wagons. Fearful of the Mustangs, the Japanese convoys moved only after dusk, and the sound of their engines kept everyone awake night after night. Sergeant Nagata and his guards had given up any attempt to patrol the camp’s perimeter for fear of being shot by the military police supervising the convoys.

“Basie . . .” A familiar thought occurred to Jim. “Has the next war effectively begun?” “That’s a way of putting it, Jim. I’m glad I helped you with your words.”

“Shanghai? That’s one dangerous city, Jim. You need more than luck in Shanghai.

He had learned nothing from the war because he expected nothing, like the Chinese peasants whom he now looted and shot. As Dr. Ransome had said, people who expected nothing were dangerous. Somehow, five hundred million Chinese had to be taught to expect everything.

Jim remembered the light that lay over the land, the shadow of another sun. Here, at the mouths of the great rivers of Asia, would be fought the last war to decide the planet’s future.

He had failed to grasp the truth that millions of Chinese had known from birth, that they were all as good as dead anyway, and that it was self-deluding to believe otherwise.

Jim suspected that while he sat through another double feature at the Cathay Theater the car was being rented out as a film prop.


Friday, December 16, 2016

TDWG 2016 meeting, La Fortuna & Alajuela Province, San Carlos, Costa Rica #TDWG16

Official Photo by Denisse Vargas
The 2016 TDWG Biodiversity Information Standards meeting was held at the Centro de Transferencia Tecnológica y Educación Continua (CTEC) in San Carlos, Costa Rica. Hotels and other activities were in La Fortuna, about a 45 minute bus ride from CTEC.

BHL was represented at the TDWG 2016 conference with a symposium, "BHL: 10 Years of Innovation and Growth". The panel consisted of:
Constance Rinaldo
  • BHL - 10 Years and More! (Martin R. Kalfatovic)
  • BHL: Grants and Growth (Constance Rinaldo)
  • BHL-SciELO Network (Henrique Rodrigues)
  • Towards extracting occurrence data from biodiversity literature (Dmitry Schigel)
  • Questions: BHL - 10 years of innovation & growth (Discussion led by Constance Rinaldo)
The session was attended by about 70 people. The conclusion of the session was a discussion with the audience about desires for the future direction of BHL and features or services that could be implemented as BHL explores refactoring the BHL platform. Among the topics mentioned by the audience were: integration of visual resources in BHL; expanding in-copyright material,

Dimitris Koureas, Cynthia Parr, Erick Mata
The TDWG organizers, lead by the program committee, Dr. Erick Mata Montero (Professor, School of Computing, Costa Rica Institute of Technology), Gail Kampmeier (Prairie Research Institute, Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois, USA); Francisco ("Paco") Pando (Real Jardín Botánico-CSIC, Spain); Maria Mora Instituto (Nacional de Biodiversidad, Costa Rica); Joel Sachs (Agriculture and Agri-Food, Canada); Manuel Vargas (Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, Costa Rica); Stan Blum (ex-officio TDWG Coordinator); and William Ulate (ex-officio TDWG Treasurer, Missouri Botanical Garden), delivered an excellent program.

The keynote, by Dr. Rodrigo Gámez Lobo (founder and former Director General and President of the National Biodiversity Institute) spoke the future of Costa Rican biodiversity as exemplified in his work On Biodiversity, People and Utopias (1999). His talk addressed the them of this work, in which he states, "Our real goal is to make the society come to the understanding that, because of being something that directly affects quality of life, materially, intellectually and spiritually, we must preserve at all costs the rich biodiversity of the country".

Former BHL Technical Director William Ulate led a symposium on Semantics for Biodiversity Science: Challenges & Solutions. Ulate and co-author Riza Batista-Navarro spoke on "Real use cases for Semantic Information from the Mining Biodiversity project."

Other important symposium was Semantics for Biodiversity Science: Text Mining & Semantic Role Tagging. Key papers included:
  • Enhancing semantic search through the automatic construction of a Biodiversity Terminological Inventory (Nhung T.H. Nguyen, Georgios Kontonatsios, Axel J. Soto, Riza Batista-Navarro, Sophia Ananiadou)
  • Geographic entities extraction from biological textual sources (Moisés Alberto Acuña-Chaves)
Another symposium of note was Semantics for Biodiversity Science: Taxon Names & Traits. Key papers included:
  • What's in a name? Sense and reference in digital biodiversity information (Joakim Philipson)
  • Creating computable definitions for clades using the Web Ontology Language (OWL) (Gaurav Vaidya, Hilmar Lapp, Nico Cellinese)
Globally Unique Identifiers for Names (organized by Chuck Miller and Richard Pyle) included papers of interest to BHL:
  • Reviewing data integration and mobilisation using name reconciliation and identifier services (Nicky Nicolson, Robert Turner, Abigail Barker)
  •  Implementing Name Identifiers for the World Flora Online (Chuck Miller)
  • Identifiers for Biodiversity Informatics: The Global Names Approach (Dmitry Y. Mozzherin, Richard Pyle)
  • The Catalogue of Life Editor's View on Globally Unique Identifiers for Names (Yuri Roskov)
  • Names and identifiers in the CyVerse cyberinfrastucture (Ramona L. Walls)
  • Utilizing Unique Identifiers for Taxonomic Concepts (Jeff Gerbracht)
Two standout papers in the contributed papers session were:
  • TDWG Then and Now (Arturo H. Ariño, Anabel Pérez de Zabalza)
  • Nanopublications for biodiversity: concept, formats and implementation (Lyubomir Penev, Éamonn Ó Tuama, Viktor Senderov, Pavel Stoev, Teodor Georgiev)

Volcán Arenal
A highlight of the meeting as the TDWG 2016 Bioblitz at the nearby Texas A&M Soltis Center. The bioblitz helped to create a biodiversity snapshot of TDWG 2016. Participants were encouraged to take the opportunity to observe, to post their pictures of local biodiversity. The event took place in a torrential rainstorm, but the event still provided some observations and camaraderie.

There were other opportunities to see some of Costa Rica's amazing biodiversity, among those sighted were:

Two-toed Sloth
(Choloepus hoffmanni)
Mammals
  • Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus)
  • Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni)
  • White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica)
  • Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata)
  • Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi)
  • White-throated Capuchin (Cebus capucinus)
  • Long-nosed bat (Rhynchonycteris naso)


Yellow-throated Toucan
(Ramphastos ambiguus)
Birds
  • Wood Stork (Mycteria americana)
  • Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)
  • Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
  • Snoy Egret (Egretta thula)
  • Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa)
  • Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
  • Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris)
  • Yellow-throated Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus)
  • Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana)
  • Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
  • White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
American Crocodile
(Crocodylus acutus)
Reptiles
  • Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus)
  • American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)
  • Emerald Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons)
  • Black River Turtle (Rhinoclemmys funerea)
  • Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
  • Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)




Monday, December 05, 2016

BHL participates in meetings at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (Paris)

From left:
Bruno David, Martin R. Kalfatovic,
Laurence Bénichou, Nancy E. Gwinn, Gildas Illien
photo by Jean-Christophe Domenech
I was honored to participate in the signing ceremony on 2 December 2016 where the Museum officially joined the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Accompanying Dr. Nancy E. Gwinn (Smithsonian Libraries Director and Chair of the BHL Executive Committee), the ceremony was held in the amphitheater of the Galeries d'Anatomie comparée et de Paléontologie. Attending on behalf of the MNHN were Dr. Bruno David (Director), Gildas Illien (head of the MNHN library), and Laurence Bénichou (Head, Publications Scientifiques).

Immediately before the meeting, I gave a presentation ("Increasing Access, Promoting Progress: Empowering Global Research through the BHL") on BHL to representatives from a number of large natural history museums from around the world (including BHL partners American Museum of Natural History, The Field Museum of Natural History, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Natural History Museum (London), National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Libraries), Natural History Museum Los Angeles County, and Naturalis Biodiversity Center.

Earlier, on 30 November, I was treated to a tour of the MNHN library by the M. Illien and had the opportunity to meet with key staff (Alice LeMaire, Anaïs Rameaux, Chloé Besombes, and Vincent Detienne) who will be participating in BHL. The following day, I met with Laurence Bénichou and the staff of the Publications Scientifiques. Topics included BHL metadata models and best practices to be reviewed for ingest of MNHN publications into BHL.

A tour of the Grand Hall of Evolution and the special exhibition, Espèces d’ours! was also arranged. The Grande Galerie de l'Évolution is an amazing four level exhibition that documents life on our planet. The installation is an outstanding re-envisioning of an older space for the 21st century. Of personal interest was the La salle des espèces menacées et disparues and a nice display of artifacts related to Raphus cucullatus.

On 2 December, before the signing ceremony, the Museum arranged for a tour of the Jardin des Plantes for me and Nancy E. Gwinn. Our host, Fabien Dupuis, Desk Officer from the office of International and European Affairs provided an excellent tour of the gardens and greenhouses that are under the auspices of the Museum.

 
Herbarium (left) and Galeries d'Anatomie comparée et de Paléontologie (right)

Gwinn (left) and Illien (right)
My special thanks to the staff of the Museum for arranging our visit. Gildas Illien was a superb host who juggled multiple high-profile events during this brief visit. It was a pleasure to meet him in person after many emails and phone calls. All of us at BHL and the Smithsonian look forward to working with him in the years to come. And at last, I was able to meet with Laurence Bénichou in France after seeing her in many other places around the world. Seeing her office, located in the 18th century home of noted naturalist  Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, made one appreciate the over 200 year history of scientific publishing at the Museum.

And yes, good food was had by all ...


Raphus cucullatus



Tuesday, November 08, 2016

@BioDivLibrary accepts the DLF Community/Capacity Award w/the American Archive of Public Broadcasting #DLFforum

Photo by @tlroup
On 7 November, BHL officially received the Digital Library Federation (DLF) 2016 Community/Capacity Award. The award, the first given by the DLF, was shared with the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. BHL was honored to be selected by DLF members from an outstanding list of nominees.

Joining BHL Program Director on stage to accept the award from DLF Director Bethany Nowviskie  were BHL Member representative Kelli Trei (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), and Jacqueline Chapman and Joel Richard from Smithsonian Libraries. Representatives from BHL included Anne Kenney (University Librarian, Cornell University Library, Keri Thompson (Smithsonian Libraries), and Karl Blumenthal (Internet Archive).



See more about the award at:
The 2016 DLF Forum also included a presentation by Trei, "The Impact of the Biodiversity Heritage Library on Scientific Research." The presentation details a study evaluating the scientific impact of the digital Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) through topic modeling and analysis of a series of interviews with scientific researchers featured in a BHL blog.

Kelli Trei at the DLF Forum



Saturday, November 05, 2016

Attending the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, 23rd Governing Board Meeting, Brasilia, Brazil

Celso Pansera (left) and Peter Schalk (right)
The Biodiversity Heritage Library participated in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility's 23rd Governing Board meeting, 25-26 October 2016 in Brasilia, Brazil. I attended the meetings as the Head of Delegation for the BHL, substituting for Constance Rinaldo (Museum of Comparative Zoology/Harvard University). The two days of meetings brought together both the voting members (at the national level) and associate members (including the BHL).

The meeting proved a fertile ground to meet with BHL users to discover new ways that the BHL can partner in the global biodiversity community. The BHL is fortunate to work with GBIF Chair Peter Schalk and Executive Secretary Donald Hobern on collaborative projects.

Governing Board Chair Peter Schalk (Netherlands) officially opened the meeting and gave the official report for the year. Schalk specifically noted:
GBIF continues to grow both in numbers (data, users, publication) as in importance (relevance, connections). The field of biodiversity informatics has come of age. The many different national, regional and globally funded initiatives are slowly becoming part of a powerful ‘research machine’, getting organizing into coherent network of collaborative efforts on a global scale.
Bruno Umbelino
Schalk also reported on the various interim meetings held by the Secretariat (in person and virtually). He also noted that GBIF continues to grow through partnerships with other international biodiversity organizations and noted work done by the Secretariat to becoming:
aligned with the Catalogue of Life (COL), Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), and the Barcode of Life (BOL), resulting in a better and more complete service to the users. I applaud the proactive role of the Executive Secretary in this.
Schalk completed his report by noting:
It is my strong believe that GBIF is on the right way in terms of developing its own role and place in science and society, as well as in taking a lead to strengthen the field of biodiversity informatics by forging collaborations and bringing synergy in the agendas of the numerous initiatives that have come into existence in the past decade.
Report from the Science Committee (Rod Page)
Page reported on the past year's activities from the Science Committee. Main activities
  • Ebbe Nielsen Challenge, theme this year was "Mind the Gaps"; winners will be announced at the Science Symposium on 26 October
  • Young Researcher Awards (Juan Manuel Escamilla Molgora, Mexico, based in the UK; and Bruno Umbelino, Brazil) 
  • Working with the Programme Officers and Informatics team

Looking forward, the Committee would like to continue the Nielsen Challenge, perhaps with some refactoring. Very important to continue to engage with young researchers. How best to engage with these researchers needs to be looked at in new ways. The Committee is also looking at new communications tools and methods.

Page also outlined the overall recommendations of the Committee:
  • Review the effectiveness of the Ebbe Nielsen Challenge.
  • Review the effectiveness of Young Researchers Awards in engaging young researchers.
  • Develop plans to increase the taxonomic coverage of names in GBIF. 
  • Develop plans to de-bureaucratize the publication process and enable individual researchers to more easily adding data to GBIF
  • Develop plans to add missing data, with emphasis on data or data-types that fills gaps or is timely (e.g., related to a disease outbreak or other events).  

Executive Secretary Report
Donald Hobern, GBIF Executive Secretary, provided a report on the main activities. There was also a review of the Work Programme 2014-2016 which included three streams and 16 areas; the streams were:
  • Stream 1: Advance the Informatics – Persistence and validation 
  • Stream 2: Advance the Engagement – Communication and implementation 
  • Stream 3: Advance the Content – Relevance and fitness-for-use 
Hobern also provided an overview of the development of GBIF plans for 2017-2021. These include the GBIF Strategic Plan 2017-2021, GBIF Implementation Plan 2017-2021, and the GBIF Annual Work Programme 2017.  Also discussed was the Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) project. BID is a five year, €3.9M programme, funded by the European Union. Hobern noted:

In its first year of operation, 23 projects from 20 African countries, selected from 143 concept notes originally submitted, began implementation under the initial BID project call. Involvement of GBIF Participants both within Africa and beyond, especially through contribution of trainers and mentors to support the selected projects has been invaluable in enabling effective data mobilization and capacity outcomes from the BID investment.

In preparation for a discussion of the future of GBIF, Hobern outlined the various key assumptions that went into the planning for the 2017 budget. Using the financial background, Hobern touched on the key priorities of the Implementation Plan 2017-2021. These include:
  • Priority 1: Empower the Global Network
  • Priority 2: Enhance Biodiversity Informatics Infrastructure
  • Priority 3: Fill Data Gaps
  • Priority 4: Improve Data Quality
  • Priority 5: Deliver relevant data

Excursion
An all day excursion was offered on 28 October 2016 to Chapada Imperial in the Cerrado biome area. During the 4 km/3.5 hour hike, it was possible to see seven vegetation zones of the cerrado (phytophysiognomy): vereda, gallery forest, campo úmido, campo sujo, campo limpo, cerrado senso stricto, and campo rupestre. The trail included 30 waterfalls and 11 arborism trails and a vertical elevation change of 150 meters.

* * * * *  

GBIF Public Symposium 

A public symposium held in conjunction with the GBIF23 Governing Board Meeting
Brasilia, Brazil | 26 October 2016

The first half of the symposium reported on progress GBIF has made on a variety of topics, including licensing, supplementary funding programmes, and engagement with other intergovernmental bodies. The second half introduced future directions either underway or under discussion. These include the new strategic plan and 2017 implementation plan (including participant pledges), the next version of GBIF.org, the "socialification" of GBIF.org, data rescue and data liberation.

Report from the Nodes Committee Chair (Anne-Sophie Archambeau on behalf of Hanna Koivula)
Archambeau reported on the different programs and plans from the Committee. She also thanked Hanna Koivula for her work and noted there will be an election of a new chair.

* * * * *
Glaucius Oliva (left); Peter Schalk (right)

Engaging GBIF in BrasilSiBBr - Sistema de Informação sobre a Biodiversidade Brasileira Symposium
27 October 2016 | Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico

GBIF participants were invited to attend the SiBBR Symposium at CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico | National Council for Scientific and Technological Development). The president of CNPq (Glaucius Oliva) welcomed the group as did a representative of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. Peter Schalk (GBIF Chair) gave a brief introduction and thanks to SiBBR and the Ministry for their support of the GBIF 23 meeting.

Donald Hobern gave the keynote talk (“GBIF - Empowering a Global Network”) with an overview of GBIF activities and services. This was followed by a session by Andrea Portela (Director General of SiBBR) and Rafael Fonseca (SiBBR Participation Coordinator) speaking on “SiBBR: Engaging Stakeholders Communities” and a third panel that discussed the activities of the “SiBBR: Brazil Node of GBIF.”

Amazonas, Brazil

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A selection of the books I read for my recent trip to Brazil

NOTE: I didn't read in this room
at the Casa Teatro Hotel
In preparation for my trip to Brasil, I read the following book. One of them, The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray by Jorge Amado, I'd read last year for my trip that was cancelled due to visa issues.

List of Books
  1. A voyage up the River Amazon: including a residence at Para by William H. Edwards (1822-1909) (1847)
  2. A narrative of travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro by Alfred Russel Wallace (1853)
  3. The naturalist on the River Amazons by Henry Walter Bates (1825-1892) (1863) . Volume 1 and Volume 2
  4. A journey in Brazil by Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz and Louis Agassiz (1868)
  5. Brazil, the Amazons and the coast by Herbert Huntington Smith (1851-1919) (1879)
  6. The Giant Raft: Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon by Jules Verne (1881)
  7. Notes of a botanist on the Amazon & Andes; being records of travel on the Amazon and its tributaries, the Trombetas, Rio Negro, Uaupâes, Casiquiari, Pacimoni, Huallaga and Pastasa; as also to the cataracts of the Orinoco, along the eastern side of the Andes of Peru and Ecuador, and the shores of the Pacific, during the years 1849-1864 by Richard Spruce (1908). Volume 1 and Volume 2 and BHL
  8. Through the Brazilian wilderness by Theodore Roosevelt (1914)
  9. Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh (1934)
  10. One River by Wade Davis (1996)
  11. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard (2005)
  12. State of Wonder by Ann Patchet (2011)
  13. A Machado de Assis Anthology by Machado de Assis
  14. The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray (2012) by Jorge Amado

State of Wonder
The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray (Penguin Classics)
A Machado de Assis Anthology
A Handful of Dust
Through the Brazilian Wilderness
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
A Journey in Brazil
Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon and Andes: Being Records of Travel on the Amazon and Its Tributaries, the Trombetas, Rio Negro, Uaupes, Casiquiari,
A voyage up the River Amazon: including a residence at Pará
A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro, with an Account of the Native Tribes, and Observations on the Climate, Geology, and Natural History of the Amazon Valley
One River
The Naturalist on the River Amazons
Eight Hundred Leagues On The Amazon (Annotated)
Brazil; The Amazons and the Coast. Illustrated from Sketches by J. Wells Champneys and Others.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

South America has the most extensive and most varied avifauna of all the continents. On the other hand, its mammalian fauna, although very interesting, is rather poor in number of species and individuals - T Roosevelt

I didn't get to see much mammalian life while in Amazonas, but did see some freshwater dolphins and a sloth.

* * * * * 

South America has the most extensive and most varied avifauna of all the continents. On the other hand, its mammalian fauna, although very interesting, is rather poor in number of species and individuals and in the size of the beasts. It possesses more mammals that are unique and distinctive in type than does any other continent save Australia; and they are of higher and much more varied types than in Australia. But there is nothing approaching the majesty, beauty, and swarming mass of the great mammalian life of Africa and, in a less degree, of tropical Asia; indeed, it does not even approach the similar mammalian life of North America and northern Eurasia, poor though this is compared with the seething vitality of tropical life in the Old World. pp.68-69

From: Through the Brazilian wilderness  (1914) by Theodore Roosevelt



"There are several species of these greedy piranhas" HH Smith #QotD

While touring outside of Manaus, we were taking piranha fishing (catch and release)

* * * * * 

There are several species of these greedy piranhas; this kind is seldom more than ten inches long; but the piranha assu is twice as large, and it makes nothing of biting an ounce or so of flesh from a bather's leg. People are some times killed by the piranhas; hence the Brazilians avoid swimming except where they know that the water is free from them. The fishermen say that piranhas gather in bands against the larger fish; crowding to the attack, they frequently bite each other by mistake ; and the wounded ones are mercilessly set upon and devoured by their companions. Another dangerous fish of these lakes is the stingray, which Hes flat on the bottom, the dark upper surface hardly visible over the mud and roily water. If left undisturbed, the creature is harmless enough, but a careless wader may step on the flat body, and then the great, barbed sting inflicts a wound that benumbs the whole body, and makes the sufferer speechless with pain. I have known a man to be bed-ridden for three months after such a wound; I have known others who were lamed for life. pp. 284-85

From: Brazil, the Amazons and the coast  (1879) by Herbert Huntington Smith (1851-1919)

* * * * * 

We saw men frequently bathing unmolested; but there are places where this is never safe, and in any place if a school of the fish appear swimmers are in danger; and a wounded man or beast is in deadly peril if piranhas are in the neighborhood. Ordinarily it appears that an unwounded man is attacked only by accident. Such accidents are rare; but they happen with sufficient frequency to justify much caution in entering water where piranhas abound. p.86

From: Through the Brazilian wilderness  (1914) by Theodore Roosevelt