Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlifeby David Burnie
Unrivaled in its breadth and visual impact, this unique guide sets out to illustrate, describe, and explain the incredible range of creatures that make up the animal kingdom. Exceptional Coverage. This authoritative volume starts with a clear introduction to the animal world, examining the reasons for the apparently infinite variety of animal forms and major
Unrivaled in its breadth and visual impact, this unique guide sets out to illustrate, describe, and explain the incredible range of creatures that make up the animal kingdom. Exceptional Coverage. This authoritative volume starts with a clear introduction to the animal world, examining the reasons for the apparently infinite variety of animal forms and major evolutionary developments. Animal anatomy, life cycles and the principles of classification are also explored. This is followed by a superbly illustrated survey of world habitats, showing how they have adapted to each environment, and the threats that face both wildlife and plants today. The main part of the book, an up-to-date and comprehensive animal catalog, looks in detail at each major group and provides fascinating profiles of over 2,000 individual species. Visually Breathtaking. Spectacular photographic portraits bring a vast array of animals vividly to life, with special features on well-known and important animals such as the Galapagos tortoise. Each species profile is supported by maps and symbols showing distribution and habitat, as well as key information on size, population, and conservation status, forming an invaluable reference database. Outstanding Reference. Clear, comprehensive, and thought provoking, the Smithsonian Animal is essential reading for wildlife enthusiasts of all ages and levels of experience.
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Read an Excerpt
WHAT ARE ANIMALS?
With almost two million species identified to date, and even more than that awaiting discovery, animals are the most varied living things on the planet. For over a billion years, they have adapted to the changing world around them, developing a vast array of different lifestyles in the struggle to survive. At one extreme, animals include fast-moving predators, such as sharks, big cats, and birds of prey; at the other, there are the inconspicuous sorters and sifters of the animal world's leftovers, living unseen in the soil or on the deep seabed. Together, they make up the animal kingdoma vast collection of living things that are linked by a shared biology and that occupy a dominant place in life on earth.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ANIMALS
Animals are usually easy to distinguish from other forms of life because most of them can move. However, while this rule works for most animals that live on land, it does not apply to some that live in water. Here, many animals spend their adult lives in one place, and some have trailing arms or tentacles that make them look very much like plants. A more reliable way of identifying animals is by their basic biological features: their bodies are composed of many cells, and they have nerves and muscles that enable them to respond to the world around them. Most important of all, they get the energy they need by taking in food.
Animals are highly complex, and remarkably responsive, compared with other forms of life. Even the simplest animals react quickly to changes around them, shrinking away from potential dangeror reaching out for food. Animals with well-developed nervous systems can go much further: they can learn from experiencean ability that is unique to the animal world.
Sea squirts are typical "sessile" animals: they spend their adult lives fixed to a solid surface. The young, which resemble tadpoles, can move freely, enabling sea squirts to spread.
KINGDOMS OF LIFE
Biologists classify all living things into overall groups, called kingdoms. The members of each kingdom are alike in fundamental ways, such as in the nature of their cells or in the way they obtain energy. In the most widely used system of classification there are five kingdoms, of which the animal kingdom is the largest. In recent years, a new classification system has been proposed. In this, there are three "superkingdoms": Archaebacteria, the Eubacteria, and Eukaryota. The first and second reflect chemical and physical differences within bacteria. The third contains the living things that, unlike bacteria, have complex cells: protists, fungi, plants, and animals.
THE SCALE OF ANIMAL LIFE
The world's largest living animals, baleen whales, can be up to 82ft (25m) long and weigh 132 tons. At the other end of the spectrum are microscopic organismsrotifers and tardigrades (only 0.05mm long)and submicroscopic flies and beetles (about 0.2mm long). These animals are so tiny that their weight is negligible. Even so, they possess all the body systems needed for survival.
Different body sizes allow animals to live in different ways. Whales have few natural predators; and the same is true of elephants, the largest land animals. Their massive bodies are highly energy-efficient because they process food on such a large scale. However, they take a long time to reach maturity, and thus are slow to reproduce. Insects, on the other hand, are easy prey for many animals, and their small size means that their bodies are not as energy-efficient as those of large animals. But, since they can breed rapidly when conditions are favorable, their numbers can increase at a prodigious rate.
Microscopic tardigrades (also called water bears) move about on tiny legs. Their behaviors is as complex as that of animals thousands of times their size.
Almost all the world's largest and most familiar animals are vertebratesanimals that have backbones. They include the fastest animals on land, in water, and in the air, and also the world's most intelligent species, one of whichHomo sapiensis quite outstanding in this latter respect.
Vertebrates are all related to each other, sharing a common ancestry that stretches back millions of years. However, despite leading the animal kingdom in so many fields, vertebrates make up a tiny minority of the animal species known today. The vast majority of species are invertebratesanimals without backbones.
Unlike vertebrates, invertebrates often have very little in common with each other, apart from their lack of a backbone. The giant squid, the largest invertebrate, can measure over 52ft (16m) long, but it is very much an exception. Most invertebrates are tiny, and many live in inaccessible habitats, which explains why they are still poorly known compared with vertebrates.
Vertebrates make up less than 3 percent of the world's animals. The remaining 97 percent are invertebrates.
A humpback whale bursts out of the sea. Animals this large depend on aquatic habitats because water can support most of their weight.
Animals are multicellular organisms that obtain energy by ingesting food. All animals are capable of moving at least some parts of themselves, and many can move from place to place.
Plants are multicellular organisms that grow by harnessing the energy in light. Through a process called photosynthesis, they use this energy to build up organic matter from simple materials, creating most of the food on which animals rely.
Most fungi are multicellular. They collect energy from organic matter, which they do not ingest but break down externally using microscopic threads that spread throughout their food. Many fungi are too small to be seen, but some form large fruiting bodies.
Protists are single-celled organisms that typically live in water, or in permanently moist habitats. Their cells are larger and more complex than those of bacteria. Some protists behave like plants, collecting energy from sunlight; others, known as protozoa, are more like animals, acquiring energy by ingesting food.
Monerans, or bacteria, are the simplest fully independent living things. Their cells are prokaryotic, meaning they lack organellesthe specialized structures more complex cells use for carrying out different tasks. Bacteria gather energy from various sources, including organic and inorganic matter, and sunlight.
Many invertebratessuch as leecheshave no hard body parts; to keep their shape they rely on the pressure of their body fluids. Simple chordates, which include lancelets, have a strengthening rod or notochord that runs along the length of their bodies. Vertebrates, which are more advanced chordates, are the only animals that have internal skeletons made of bone.
WARM- AND COLD-BLOODED
Most animals are cold-blooded (or ectothermic), which means that their body temperature is determined by that of their surroundings. Birds and mammals are warm-blooded (or endothermic), which means that they generate their own heat and maintain a constant internal temperature regardless of the conditions outside.
This difference in body temperature has some far-reaching effects on the way animals live; this is because animal bodies work best when they are warm. Cold-blooded animals, such as reptiles, amphibians, and insects, operate very effectively in warm conditions, but they slow down if the temperature drops. They can absorb some heat by basking in sunshine, but if the temperature falls below about 50°F (10°C) their muscles work so slowly that they find it difficult to move. Birds and mammals, on the other hand, are barely affected by this kind of temperature change. Their internal heat and good insulation enable them to remain active even when temperatures fall below freezing.
A basking butterfly soaks up the sunshine. By basking, or by hiding in a shade butterflies and other cold-blooded animals can adjust their body temperature. Even so, they have difficulty coping with extreme temperature, especially severe cold.
In subzero conditions, superb insulation keeps the body temperature of these young emperor penguins at an almost constant 104°F (40°C).
Physically, vertebrates function as separate units, even though they may live together in families or larger groups. In the invertebrate world it is not unusual for animals to be permanently linked together, forming clusters called colonies. Colonies often look and behave like single animals. Most are static, but someparticularly ones that live in the seacan move about.
This branching coral is covered with a living "skin" that connects its individual animals, or polyps. The polyps are in constant contact with each other but otherwise lead separate lives. Each has a set of stinging tentacles and catches its own food.
Colonial species include some of the world's most remarkable invertebrates. Pyrosomes, for example, form colonies shaped like test tubes that are large enough for a diver to enter. But, in ecological terms, the most important colonial animals are reef-building corals, which create complex structures that provide havens for a range of other animals. In reef-building corals, the members of each colony are usually identical. But in some colonial species, the members have different shapes designed for different tasks. For example, the Portuguese man o'warand oceanic difter that has a highlypotent stinglooks like a jellyfish but consists of separate animals, called polyps, that capture food, digest it, or reproduce. They dangle beneath a giant gas-filled polyp that acts as the colony's float.
FUEL FOR LIFE
Animals obtain their energy from organic matter, or food. They break food up by digesting it, and then they absorb the substances that are released. These substances are carried into the animal's cells, where they are combined with oxygen to release energy. This processcalled cellular respirationis like a highly controlled form of burning, with food acting as the fuel.
The majority of animals are either herbivores, which eat plants, or carnivores, which eat other animals. Carnivores include predators, which hunt and kill prey, and parasites, which feed in or on the living bodies of other animals. There are also omnivores, which eat both animal and plant food, and scavengers, which feed on dead matterfrom decaying leaves and corpses to fur and even bones.
All animals, regardless of lifestyle, ultimately provide food for other animals. All are connected by food chains, which pass foodand its energyfrom one species to another. However, individual food chains are rarely more than five or six links long. This is because up to 90 percent of an animal's energy cannot be passed on: it is used up in making the animal's own body work.
The food chain ends with a "top predator"in this case an osprey. When it dies, the energy in its body is used by scavengers, such as insects and bacteria.
The perch lives almost exclusively on other animals. A perch feeding on dragonfly nymphs is a second-level carnivore, receiving food that has already been through two other animals.
Dragonfly nymphs are typical first-level carnivores, using a mixture of speed and stealth to hunt small prey. Tadpoles are a good food source and often feature in their diet.
During their early lives, tadpoles use their jaws to feed on water plants. By digesting the plant food, and therefore turning it into animal tissue, they change plant food into a form that carnivores can use.
By synthesizing sunlight, plants gather the energy that drives most of life on earth. In this food chain, waterweed is the first link, creating food that can then be passed on.
This is a typical five-stage food chain from a freshwater habitat. Food and energy move upward through the chain, being passed on every time one organism eats another. The chain ends when it reaches an animal that has no natural predators. The energy in the final animal's body is ultimately passed on to scavengers and to recyclers, known as decomposers, many of which live in soil.
Excerpted from ANIMAL by . Copyright © 2001 by Dorling Kindersley Limited. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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I bought this book for my son when he was 5 and he loves looking through all the pictures of the animals. He is now 7 and still uses it. He mainly reads through it for enjoyment of looking at all the animals, but he also used it for a report on an animal for his first grade class. He was really excited to use it for a reference! It has great photographs and interesting information. It will stay in our house until the children are grown and gone and probably after that as well.
It is very afformative and can be very useful for students doing research,scholars, and some professionals.I want to be a vet and this book had helped me some on knowing a little bit more about animals other than the normal pets.