Pliny 2.0

Natural History Encyclopedia 2.0

Albino Redwood

The white needles of an albino redwood. Needles are often more yellowed than this. Photo by Richard Masoner / Creative Commons.

With their snow-white needles, albino redwoods are a striking natural anomaly that occur in tiny numbers throughout the range of the coast redwood.

Gray Whale

A gray whale breaching. Photo credit: Merrill Gosho/NOAA

The sole surviving species in the entire ancient family Eschrichtiidae, the gray whale filters its food like all baleen whales but, unlike any other large whale, it is a bottom feeder.

Northern Elephant Seal

An elephant seal and her pup bask on the beach. Photo credit: NOAA.

Each December northern elephant seals heave ashore beaches from Baja to central California after completing another lap of the most demanding mammalian migration on earth. The only animals known to migrate twice annually, the seals have been known to log 13,000 Pacific miles a year.


two twisted madrone trees in the rain

The visually striking madrone tree is a memorable element of the North American Pacific coastal landscape.

Douglas Fir

A Douglas fir cone with the telltale three-pronged bracts. Photo by Walter Siegmund/Creative Commons.

When people say they want an old-fashioned, cone-shaped Christmas tree, they are referring to the Douglas fir—which isn’t quite as neatly shaped in the wild. It’s also much larger than a standard holiday tree if left to its own devices.

Black Oystercatcher

This fairly common black bird with the bright orange beak and the red rings around its yellow eyes prefers rocky stretches of coastline between Baja California and Alaska's Aleutian Islands, where it can forage in the intertidal zone for limpets, mussels and other mollusks.

Sticky Monkey-flower

Once you know what sticky monkey-flower looks like, you’ll see it everywhere.

Black-tailed Deer

If you're on the West Coast between the Alaska panhandle and Central California, there’s a good chance that animal track you’re staring at belongs to the black-tailed deer. Apart from being the most visible four-legged creature in its region, it also has the most visible track.


Although the coyote's scientific name, Canis latrans, means "barking dog" in Latin, the indigenous people of California had another name for these scrappy opportunists: Trickster. The coyote is the traditional symbol for the Trickster character found in many Native American myths.

Pliny 2.0 Natural History

"Hail to thee, Nature, thou parent of all things!" Thus spake Pliny the Elder, author of "Naturalis Historia," the world's first encyclopedia (and one of the first books ever printed after the invention of the printing press).