DK's astonishingly wonderful Animal
--produced in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution and more than 70 expert zoologists--profiles over 2,000 species, from the tiny spider mite to the massive blue whale. To call this book "profusely illustrated" is to seriously under-represent page after page of breathtaking photography capturing the thrumming life with sharp clarity. Even the page borders are covered with collages of animal skins to indicate which class of organisms is represented in that section--every inch of this heavy book is gorgeous.
Besides heft and beauty, Animal has authority. Editors-in-chief David Burnie and Don E. Wilson are top biologists, and they have assembled a crack team of consultants for each section of the book. For instance, Richard Rosenblatt of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography takes charge of the chapter on fish, so all the classification, behaviour and distribution data is up-to-date and full of the kind of detail that comes from years of professional specialisation. In addition to basic size, location and status information, each animal gets a short, one to two-paragraph description, enough to give a feel for the creature:
The blackfin icefish produces a natural "antifreeze", enabling it to survive in the subzero waters of the Antarctic. It lacks red blood cells and hence looks rather pale, but has excellent blood circulation, and a strong heart which weighs as much as that of a small mammal. Its large, toothy mouth led to it being called the crocodile fish by 19th-century whalers.
This book is an ideal browsing reference for all experience levels, as well as a delightful addition to the collection of any animal enthusiast or classroom. By necessity, not all species are covered, but as a general source of information down to the genus level, Animal
excels. Though a little pricey, this book is extraordinarily beautiful, biologically accurate and packed with furry, feathery, finny, many-legged delights. It is one of the very best science books of 2001. --Therese Littleton
--This text refers to an alternate
It's a rash (or very assured) publisher who would describe any book as "The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife". No doubt one or two professionals may balk at the omission of certain species, but for the general reader (and it is to that individual that this sumptuous book is addressed) the inclusiveness will seem encyclopaedic. The arresting cover image of the eyes and nose of a baboon in extreme close-up typifies the unorthodox visual approach of many of the 5,000 breathtaking images. (There is a wonderful shot of a lynx appearing to wink at the viewer, also seen in extreme close-up.) David Burnie and his team took over four years to create this unique book, with research provided by 80 leading experts. Animal profiles over 2,000 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates, while over 5,000 full-colour photographs vividly capture the drama and beauty of the animal kingdom. There are extensive features on habitats, anatomy, life-cycles, reproduction and social behaviour, while unique freeze-frame action sequences present key features of animal life. Some might argue that television has thoroughly colonised this kind of material, but a glance at the pages of this volume will quickly give the lie to such an idea. Expect this to figure in many Christmas book round-ups.
--This text refers to an alternate