November 8, 2011
At the height of the Battle of Alcaniz on May 23, 1809, as he was about to give the order for a desperate charge by French troops into the center of the Spanish line, Col. P.F.M.A. Dejean happened to glance down.
The air around him was thick with gunpowder and blood, but on a flower beside a stream, he saw something unusual. A beetle. Species unknown. He immediately dismounted, collected it, and pinned the specimen to the cork he had glued inside his helmet.
The first lines of The Species Seekers by Richard Conniff, which came out yesterday.