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The articles are loosely organized into seven sections, each with an introductory essay by the editor. The sections are titled "From Platypuses to Rhinoceroses" (a grab bag of topics covering bats, pronghorns, and polar bears, as well as the mammals of the title), "Realm of Rodents" (naked mole rats, gerbils, prairie dogs, and woodchucks), "Character of Cats" (lions, tigers, cheetahs, and hyenas), "Wolves and Company" (wolves, foxes, and African wild dogs), "Seafaring Mammals" (whales, dolphins, sea otters, seals, and manatees), "The Primacy of Primates" (aye-ayes, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, rhesus monkeys, and cotton-top tamarins), and "The Nature of the Mammal," a series of articles covering various general topics having to do with mammalian behavior.
Many of the articles deal with mammalian conservation issues, such as the protection and study of endangered species and the reintroduction of species to their native habitats. A series of articles on the wolf reintroduction program in Yellowstone Park lets the reader follow the history of the process and relive the ups and downs of the program. A number of the articles treat unusual mammals, such as the naked mole rat, the woollyflying squirrel, and the aye-aye. Several articles deal with mammalian anatomy and physiology, such as sea mammal diving physiology, brain function in bats, and hearing in manatees. Many of the articles are about mammalian behavior and adaptations to their environment. The articles are highly informative and interesting. After reading most of them, however, I was left with questions about how the research described in an article turned out, or I wanted to know more about the mammal described in the article.
The articles could be useful as short readings to introduce or supplement a variety of biological topics. They could also help get students started on research projects, by introducing them to some creature that they would like to study further. A few of the articles are enhanced with well-done line drawings. The absence of an index makes it difficult to use the book as a reference. Highly Recommended, Grades 7-College, Teaching Professional, General Audience. REVIEWER: Charles Watt (Burke High School)