Additional Details

ISBN: 978-0-6397-9476-1
Country: South Africa
Language: English
Format: Soft Cover
Weight: 900g
Pages: 232
Size (mm): 178x240mm
Edition: 1ste
Publication Date: October 2023
Audience: Layman and specialist
Age Group: 10 years +

The Woodpecker Mystery

A  guide to the Woodpecker Mystery and Journeys.


The Woodpecker Mystery


An exploration geologist by profession and keen birder by hobby, Nick Norman was surprised to see a woodpecker in Brazil, where he was working at the time, which was strikingly similar to those he knew in the land of his birth, South Africa. His assumption that it was explained by an ancestral woodpecker family having been fragmented when supercontinent Gondwana split into Africa and South America – and others – was contested by the leading ornithologist he consulted when next back in South Africa. In subsequent work engagements in South America, he saw other birds there, as well as trees, which represented families he knew well in Africa. That was the mystery: how the same families of flora and fauna had distributed themselves in continents astride a major world ocean, the South Atlantic.

As Sherlock Holmes said: ‘When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’ In solving the mystery, the truth of Holmes’s axiom became more and more evident to Nick as he discovered extraordinary travelogues of trees and birds for which, given enough time, a wide ocean was no barrier. It is a story of astonishing epiphanies.


Nick Norman is a published author of best-selling geology books for interested lay people. His Geological Journeys: A guide to South Africa’s rocks and landforms (co-authored with Gavin Whitfield) was shortlisted for the Nielsen Bookseller’s Choice Award in 2007, and his Box of Rocks was included in Exclusive Books 2015 ‘Homebru’ list of favourite titles.  Living in Franschhoek, he is active in promoting geoheritage in South Africa.