Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

North Shore News - Terry Peters
There is no doubt that the animal world can beat humans in most physical activities... Animals can out jump swim climb and dive us many times over but which one does it the best? Hundreds of measurements attesting to the strength, speed, and unique skills of a wide variety of animals fill the pages of this book. The main categories are based on the animal groupings of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. Within each of those are smaller categories examining the more interesting characteristics, such as fastest, largest, smallest, most varied diet, oldest and much more. Each page is loaded with fascinating details and colour photographs... Anyone interested in the capabilities of the animal world will find amazing facts and comparisons throughout this collection.
Booklist
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.
Waterloo Region Record
Accompanying the records are stunning photos and fascinating facts sure to delight readers of all ages.
Library Journal
11/15/2013
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
School Library Journal
01/01/2014
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
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-23
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781770852693
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/8/2013
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 601,911
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Zoologist Mark Carwardine is an award-winning writer, widely published photographer and TV and radio presenter.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Foreword

Mammals

Birds

Reptiles

Amphibians

Fishes

Invertebrates

Index

Acknowledgements and Picture Credits

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Preface

FOREWORD

The Natural History Museum aims to engage people's curiosity of the natural world and encourage its enjoyment and responsible use for the future of our planet. With the help of Mark Carwardine's painstaking research, which lies at the core of this book, and the additional input from many scientists at the Museum, I hope that Animal Records contributes to that aim. At 256 pages it could never cover all the amazing and exceptional animals we share the Earth with, but the selection made introduces readers to some of the most awe-inspiring and intriguing of these animals and will, I hope, whet the appetite to find out more about the world around us.

Each of the major animal groupings (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates) has its own section. Then, where appropriate, these sections are further divided up into orders and families and species — this is the basis of the science the Museum carries out, identifying and naming species and organizing them into systems of classification. Animal Records includes different records for the different groupings, so instead of being a completely comprehensive guide, it aims to include the records that are most relevant and interesting for each type of animal. Throughout the book there are special boxes which highlight some of the top record holders.

One of the saddest things about the state of the world today is how many of the record-breaking animals featured in this book are critically endangered, if not on the verge of extinction. Animal Records does not dwell on the plight of those endangered species. This is partly because the situation changes so rapidly that this type of information risks being inaccurate almost as soon as a book is published, and can therefore be more effectively communicated through other media. It is also because the main aim of this book is to celebrate the wonders of the natural world and particularly its diversity, even though this diversity is under greater threat now than it has ever been.

However, if you want to find out more about endangered animals the best source of information is the World Conservation Union (IUCN) at www.iucn.org. Through its Species Survival Commission (SSC), IUCN has for more than four decades been assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties and even selected subpopulations on a global scale in order to highlight species threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation. The species assessed for the IUCN Red List are the bearers of genetic diversity and the building blocks of ecosystems, and information on their conservation status and distribution provides the foundation for making informed decisions about conserving biodiversity from local to global levels.

I hope that
Animal Records will excite a feeling of wonder at some of the amazing animals we share this planet with, and inspire readers to get involved in the discovery, understanding, enjoyment and responsible use of the natural world to ensure that the diversity of life on Earth continues.

Michael Dixon
Director, February 2013

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