About “Life In The Dark”

Deep inside caves, at the bottoms of oceans and lakes, beneath the ground: these concealed habitats are absent of sunlight. This strange and fascinating world of complete darkness is not a solitary place―it is inhabited by millions of life forms. Yet most humans―creatures of daylight―have never seen any of them. Until now.

In this fascinating―sometimes eerie―book, extreme wildlife photographer and scientist Danté Fenolio brings the denizens of these shadowy haunts into focus. Life in the Dark shows us the many ways in which life forms have adapted to environments without sunlight, including refinements of senses, evolution of unique body parts, and illumination using “biological flashlights.”

With more than 200 mesmerizing color photographs, Life in the Dark unveils bizarre creatures like the firefly squid, the giant Amazonian catfish, the Chinese cavefish, and even the human bot fly, which lives in the darkness beneath its host’s skin. Fenolio’s rich and vibrant images shed new light on the world’s fascinating creatures of darkness.

Why "Biodiversity"?

Images From The Book

About Dante Fenolio

Danté Fenolio grew up in the fog-shrouded redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains, California, where amphibians ranging from Pacific Giant Salamanders to Red Legged Frogs were a regular part of his daily childhood experience. He maintained and bred in captivity a variety of amphibian species, including endangered species like the Darwin’s Frog, Rhinoderma darwinii, and the Malagasy Tomato Frog, Dyscophus antongilii. Further, there were successes with species that previously had either not been bred in captivity or had been infrequently reproduced, like the live bearing West African caecilian, Geotrypetes seraphini, and the Yellow Eye Leaf Frog, Agalychnis annae.

When capturing the images for this book, Danté had the help of many dozens of biologists, ecologists, naturalists, field companions, and locals, to all of whom he is deeply indebted. He would like to thank Ronald Javitch for his unwavering support of Life in the Dark. If it were not for Ron’s generosity, this project would never have seen the light of day, pun intended. Finally, the San Antonio Zoo and the Atlanta Botanical Garden supported this project by allowing Fenolio the time to take many of the trips that produced the images. Thank you to all!


Jason Bittel<br><small>National Geographic</small>

Jason Bittel
National Geographic

"Whether you see these creatures as beautiful or bizarre, Fenolio hopes the book will help shine a light on all the fascinating animals that thrive in darkness as well as the many more out there waiting to be discovered."
Read Full Review Here

Prosanta Chakrabarty
Review from Copeia

"I can’t imagine anyone not liking Life in the Dark. There is something for everyone here. The sheer number of beautiful and unique images is enough to make most ASIH members swoon. But there is a lot more here to draw inspiration from too. Buy this book!"
Read Full Review Here

Adam Cole<br><small>Skunk Bear</small>

Adam Cole
Skunk Bear

"Wildlife photographer and scientist Danté Fenolio has a new book full of creatures that have evolved to thrive deep inside of caves, at the bottoms of oceans and underground. It’s called Life in the Dark and it comes out today. These are just a handful of the hundreds of the images in the book." Read Full Review Here

Aldemaro Romero Jr.

"What I found as the most important contribution of this book is that it can be an inspiration to many to study these organisms. Probably because of their bizarre ap- pearance they are usually portrait as Baberrations^ in many other publications but Fenolio instills the sense of their uniqueness and serendipity, organisms that have much to tell us from many different fields of biology." Read Full Review Here

Danny A. Brass
"From The Bookshelf"

"In this intriguing text, Danté Fenolio takes readers on a remarkable tour of some of the most unique and extreme environments on Earth. From the abyssal depths of the deep ocean to the subterranean worlds of caves, this im- pressive collection of photographic essays provides a cel- ebration of biodiversity in realms that exist in perpetual darkness..." Read Full Review Here

Michael J. Lannoo, Ph.D
Editor, “Amphibian Declines"

“That infernal Dante has done it again. Created a series of photographs so damned beautiful that it is impossible for us to imagine otherwise. But this time we read his words. So not only do we experience the products of his mind, we see the action of his mind—both how and why he does what he does. And with “Life in the Dark” what he has done is—knowing that you cannot care about things you've never seen—use his talents to present compelling images of threatened animals that elude us because they do not use daylight as we humans do. And through this awareness, he hopes that you begin to care, and that through this caring you will act to conserve. It is a powerful argument, one I hope that you will heed.”

David Bickford, Ph.D.

“In these pages, Fenolio gives a rare glimpse inside a hidden world of strange adaptation and the sometimes bizzare answers evolution comes up with to meet the demands of Life in the Dark.  Most people tasked with documenting such diversity are themselves marvels of the natural world, and the lengths biologists go to in order to come into contact with these fantastic creatures is testimony both to their dedication and love for the organisms they seek in the furthest corners of the planet.”

Martha Crump, Ph.D.
Author, “In Search of the Golden Frog”

“Life in the Dark will delight, amaze, and inspire. Fenolio’s stunning photography and crisp, authoritative text bring to life the intriguing and bizarre creatures that live in dark places unfamiliar to most of us—caves, underground, underwater, even inside of us. Fenolio has given us an extraordinary gift—a connection to these magical creatures and an understanding that will foster a desire to conserve them.”

Robin Moore, Ph.D.
Author, “In Search of Lost Frogs”

“Life in the Dark is a fascinating and visually stunning glimpse into a kaleidoscopic array of weird and wonderful creatures that inhabit a world beyond the light. Adaptations that enable life to inhabit these hidden, and surprisingly abundant, worlds are revealed, as are the limits of our knowledge about many species with which we share our planet. The highlight of the book has to be the hauntingly beautiful photographs, tack-sharp and masterfully lit, of otherworldly creatures from hatchetfish to Mexican mole lizards. Set against a black background and with all sense of scale removed, the images fuel the imagination and remind us just how incredible and diverse life can be.”

G.O. Graening, Ph.D.
Author, “Cave Life of Oklahoma and Arkansas”

“This fascinating book will guide you on a journey through hidden realms: the abysmal depths of the oceans, the dank galleries of caves, the darkness of tropical jungles at night, and more. While we slept soundly through the night, the author was awake, diligently capturing the secrets of the nocturnal animal world.  These secrets are revealed for the first time in this handsome, full-color volume.”

George Rabb, Ph.D.
President Emeritus at Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo

“With brilliant photography and illuminating words, this work truly opens the dark worlds of life for all to reflect upon and to enjoy.”

Joseph J. Torres, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus

“Life in the dark”, by Dante Fenolio, is a treat for the eye and mind. It introduces the reader to the astonishing life inhabiting the world’s dark side with the clarity only a gifted photographer with Dante’s lifetime of study can provide. The text does an excellent job of putting each dark environment and its accompanying suite of photos in perspective. Besides the unusual animal shapes, colors, and structures, what may impress the reader the most is the amount of planet earth that is perpetually in darkness. For example, the deep-sea is the largest living space on earth, covering about 60% of its surface. Nature’s dabbling and resilience is at its best in the dark!

George Veni, Ph.D.
National Cave and Karst Research Institute

“With stunningly beautiful photography of fascinating and rarely seen creatures, combined with his elegant and easy to read text, Danté Fenolio demonstrates how the environment, even of the world’s dark places, is in fact our environment.”

Tracey T. Sutton, Ph.D.
Director, DEEPEND Consortium

“As a career-long deep-sea researcher, I often get lost in the technicality of the field and its fauna. It is through masterful works such as ‘Life in the Dark’ that I can step back and take in the sheer beauty of the forms of life so ubiquitous, yet so unknown, on our planet. Dr. Fenolio’s eye for pictorial composition is not just among the best there is, it is among the best that ever was, and I believe I have seen just about every deep-pelagic image that is publically available. These ‘twilight’ and ‘midnight’ environments are incredibly complex, yet the descriptions in this work are concise and clear. The attention to detail in this work should serve as a benchmark for future works of its kind. ‘Life in the Dark’ is destined to be a classic.”

Andrew G. Gluesenkamp, Ph.D.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

"To remove a species from the roster of Creation is the ultimate act of arrogance and hubris.  I dare not be the person who must stand before the Creator and answer for such a deed.  Dr. Fenolio's work exemplifies this reverence and serves as a reminder to all that we have a duty to preserve biodiversity for both present and future generations."

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