Natural History Museum Book of Animal Recordsby Mark Carwardine
Here are the achievers and the unique from the animal world: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates. These are not only familiar records like highest, fastest, largest, these are the unusual, such as slowest growth (the deep sea clam), most pecks in a day (black woodpecker), noisiest bird (booming Kakapo) and worst climber (western fence
Here are the achievers and the unique from the animal world: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates. These are not only familiar records like highest, fastest, largest, these are the unusual, such as slowest growth (the deep sea clam), most pecks in a day (black woodpecker), noisiest bird (booming Kakapo) and worst climber (western fence lizards fall out of their oak tree homes about 12,000 times a year).
There are myth-busters centipedes have the most legs, not millipedes, and fascinating stories two "dead" specimens of desert snail were glued onto a museum display tablet only to come out of hibernation four years later. There is a lot of the bizarre (horned lizards from western North America can squirt blood from their eyes) and the ingenious (humpback whales use bubbles as fishing nets).
The mammals, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates are organized by animal order, family and species.
Birds are organized by category. Many animals are described for more than one record e.g., camels and llamas are described for the altitude at which they live and for which is the largest and the smallest. Exceptionality is within each category rather than the entire Animal Kingdom, for example, the largest bat is the flying fox bat but the largest of all land mammals is the elephant and the largest of all animals is the blue whale.
Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records includes almost 900 records that show the diversity and wonder of the animal kingdom:
- Mammals: 381 records
- Birds: 133 records
- Reptiles: 101 records
- Amphibians: 33 records
- Fish: 38 records
- Invertebrates: 191 records.
Science is revealing unknown animal behaviors and finding new species. Behavioral research is adding a new dimension to our knowledge of what animals do, where, why and how. Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records is a fascinating sampling of these amazing discoveries.
The animal kingdom is crowded with oddities, but some creatures manage to distinguish themselves by achievement and design. BBC presenter Carwardine, in conjunction with the Natural History Museum in London, has put together a selection of record holders, which eschews being comprehensive for remaining "relevant and interesting" within each animal group. The book succeeds in its aim yet still feels thorough because of the large number of animals featured. As with most titles of this nature, mammals get the bulk of the attention. Many of the records included are not of a quantifiable nature but highlight an extreme trait of an animal: the most inquisitive species, strangest nesting material, most bizarre defense. But there are also examples of individual creatures that achieved a measurable distinction: largest antlers, fastest over a short distance, longest living. Carwardine wishes to focus on the wonder of the animal kingdom and chooses not to "dwell on the plight" of endangered species. However, some of the records are a direct result of species having been pushed to the brink, and as such, the issue of endangerment is a part of the narrative. The work is organized by animal group—subdivided where appropriate by orders, families, and species—but is best enjoyed as a browsable source. The index will help readers find specific animals and records, but flipping through the pages and stumbling upon records great and small will provide the most pleasure. VERDICT Generously illustrated with color photographs, this is a solid source for animal enthusiasts and trivia aficionados alike.—Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole P.L., MA
Gr 5–8—Carwardine has compiled thousands of fascinating facts brought to life with more than 240 color photographs and 900 animal records from throughout the animal kingdom: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, and invertebrates. The strength of the book is that it lists not only the familiar records-the highest, fastest, best sense of smell, or most colorful-but also the more unusual, such as flesh-eating, most plant-consuming, fewest toes, can survive coldest temperatures. Rather than being a comprehensive guide, the book aims to include the traits that are most relevant and interesting for each type of animal, choosing to showcase the diversity of the animal kingdom. Readers will especially enjoy the boxes highlighting top record holders scattered throughout the book and photographs on every page.—Anne Barreca, New York Public Library
A terrific collection of animal curiosities, both sensational and illuminating. This handsome and compendious gathering of animal records will easily provide hours of enlightening entertainment, from its awesome, jaw-dropping photographs to its smart, conversational text. Carwardine obviously enjoys wowing his readers, but he also weaves into the text a good amount of the evolutionary circumstance and biology that has led to these outsized, miniaturized or seriously weird examples of animal physiology and behavior. Each page provides something to gawk at, from blood-drinking finches to the 55-year-old salamander to 13-foot-tall, 1,600-pound bears. Carwardine explains why a number of creatures--say, a white shark--get undeserved bad raps and how we human animals share much with other animals: "Male sea otters obtain as much as one-third of their food by stealing from females." The degree of detail is deep, and the sheer number of creatures introduced to readers--aardvarks and axolotls to worm lizards and zebras--is wonderful, but it is knowledge of them that feels most lasting. And certainly don't miss consideration of the vilest-smelling animal: polecat, skunk or stink badger-- pick one. A top-drawer work of natural history, well-presented in a beguiling and truly humbling way. (Reference. 12 & up)
- Firefly Books, Limited
- Publication date:
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- Product dimensions:
- 7.50(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.70(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 - 17 Years
Meet the Author
Zoologist Mark Carwardine is an award-winning writer, widely published photographer and TV and radio presenter.
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