The Annotated Old Four Legs


Prof. Mike Bruton launched his latest book, The Annotated Old Fourlegs – The updated story of the Coelacanth at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) last night. About sixty people attended the launch and lecture at the institute that Bruton once headed.

The coelacanth is a rare fish that until 1938 was believed to be extinct since it was only known from fossils, many of which are considerably older than the dinosaurs.

The legendary fish scientist, Prof JLB Smith published the original Old Fourlegs book in 1956 almost 18 years after the first living coelacanth was hauled up from the ocean off the coast of East London.

Bruton said his motivation for republishing Smith’s book with the annotations was to “keep the coelacanth story alive” so that young people could learn about it and feel inspired to study this uniquely South African contribution to science.

He explained that on his bookshelves he had a copy of The Annotated Alice and appreciated how much value the annotations added to Lewis Carroll’s classic so he thought he could do the same for old fourlegs. Bruton added a wealth of fascinating insights and stories to the margin notes of the original texts which are published in full.

Bruton’s contributions make an already readable book more modern and relevant to today’s readers.

This evening (Friday) Prof Bruton will be launching a second book, What a Great Idea! Awesome South African Inventions, at the Albany Museum at six pm. Both books will be available for sale at the venue.

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