By Daneet Steffens
Updated April 02, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Since 1981, mammalogist Tim Flannery has conducted multiple research expeditions to New Guinea. He’s battled malaria, tropical ulcers, and a near-deadly bout of scrub typhus. He’s also recorded 17 previously unknown species, including a cuddly tree kangaroo, and discovered a bat thought to have become extinct 12,000 years ago. On this island frontier, Flannery cheerfully mucks about in caves and clambers up mountains chasing blue butterflies and brightly colored frogs. His human contacts are equally varied, making Throwim Way Leg — a New Guinea pidgin phrase meaning to begin a journey — an entertaining jaunt through a scientist’s world. B+