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Marvels & mysteries of our animal world by…

Marvels & mysteries of our animal world

by Reader's Digest

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This oversize book is a collection of short articles about wildlife. I looked forward to reading each selection. More than just a recitation of facts, the writings include descriptions and real-life incidents. The articles seem to be extracted from a variety of periodicals and include such authors as Jean George, Alan Devoe, Roy Chapman Andrews, J.D. Ratcliff, Leicester Hemmingway, Donald and Louise Peattie, Max Eastman, Archibald Rutledge, Ivan T. Sanderson, etc. The variety of animals too great to list, but it seems to cover all the orders and classes of life- insects, birds and mammals, shrews to elephants, wolverines, camels and ground squirrels. The sociability of gulls.The baffling migration abilities of monarchs. Of course it is still an old book, so a few things that were unknown at the time, have now been puzzled out- how birds navigate, why female mosquitoes need blood. The only selection that I found disappointing was the one on horses. I was most fascinated to read about coelocanth- which prompted me to look up further information on this ancient fish. Sometimes it was a bit opinionated- a few of the authors liked to say one animal or another was ugly- which I didn't always agree with. It tried to give a very positive look at other animals I find repugnant- like the indestructible cockroach.

There was a piece near the end titled "Wildlife on the March" by Peter Finch which discussed how many species of bird and mammals seemed to be spreading into new territories over the proceeding forty or fifty years- due in part, to climate change. Cattle egrets, cod, mockingbirds, coyotes, meadowlarks and possums are mentioned. The armadillo was once apparently rare outside of Texas, but at this writing it had expanded its range into Oaklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and some (escaped pets?) were living wild in Florida... The author said "Weather records from around the world indicate that temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere are rising at an average rate of three degrees a century.... The Gulf Stream along the U.S. coast has warmed up about five degrees in the last 60 years.... In eastern Canada the tree line, slow to react to climatic change, has nonetheless advanced northward two miles in the last 30 years." It was rather sobering to read that- written in the 1960's without a hint of alarm- it came across as just being a point of scientific interest.

At the back there are several appendixes- including a chart detailing classification of the entire animal kingdom, and an A-to-Z presentation of animals with small tidbits of text, very nice illustrations by Lowell Hess. Index is thorough. The photos are a great improvement over my last read of this kind.

from the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Nov 1, 2017 |
Marvels and Mysteries of our Animal World
A family guide to the fascinating creatures of earth, sea and sky

The dramatic life stories of animals from the butterfly to the whale are told in these 115 articles drawn from the pages of The Reader's Digest. In a special supplement another 200 creatures are described and illustrated, to complete the roster of the outstanding beasts of the animal kingdom, representing all the important orders. Among the noted writers contributing are Roy Chapman Andrews, William Beebe, Alan Devoe, Martin Johnson, Donald Culross Peattie and Ivan T Sanderson.
Magnificently Illustrated:
155 four-color photographs have been assembled by the editors from all over the world. Roger Tory Peterson, Eliot Porter and Ylla are just a few of the dozens of great nature photographers represented.
The Unusual and the Unknown:
Details about animal marvels, little-known facts and mysteries make this book the most unusual description of animal life that has been assembled in many years. You will discover such fascinating facts as these:
- If humans had vision comparable to that of hawks, we could read newspaper headlines a quarter of a mile away.
- The blue whale is the largest animal that ever lived, exceeding even the giant dinosaurs in size.
- Bees have directional signals and salmon have an unknown guide mechanism.
- The firefly's incandescent light cannot be reproduced by man, and certain stars guide night-flying birds.
The Ways of Nature:
The most important aspects of natural history are covered for the home student: the tragedy of vanishing species, the wonder of living fossils, the miraculous tenacity of life in the arctic, desert and jungle, and the special abilities of unusual birds and beasts. The animal wonders that we have collected in our zoos as well as the commonplace miracles of our own backyards appear in these pages. Here, too, are the creatures that are friendly, the pests, the wicked and the clever -- all the colorful characters of the wild. The governing forces of nature (such as migration and hibernation), the social life of beasts (such as their powers of communication, their intelligence, their courtship customs) are described in the two final sections of the book.
Special Features:
- Chart of the animal kingdom showing all the major orders
- Index containing 750 animals
  rajendran | Aug 10, 2008 |
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