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The Velvet Claw: A Natural History of the Carnivores [Hardcover]

David Macdonald
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Sep 1992
This book explores the history of carnivores by focusing on today's descendants and their early ancestors. There are more than 200 species of carnivore in existence which are more diverse than any other living group of vertebrates. The one feature which distinguishes carnivores from all other mammals is the carnassial tooth, designed for shearing meat, although, ironically, their survival has often depended on their ability to survive on diets other than meat. Nearly 40 million years ago the ancestors of two great dynasties of modern predators became divided. In a world dominated by forests the ancestors of the cat remained in the trees, and animals like the sabre-toothed tiger evolved into refined killers. The ancestors of the dog descended to the ground to feed in the clearings and later, with the opening up of the grassy plains and the prey available on these, the dog established its hunting terrain. The book helps to explain the extraordinary myths surrounding the hyena and its peculiar sexuality. It explores how bears, racoons and pandas as a group of carnivores have a truly omnivorous existence, addressing the question - can the vegetarian panda still be classified as a carnivore? The author also looks at the smaller carnivores of the mustella family with their incredible variation in size and lifestyle. They have developed to become both predators and prey and some, such as the skunk, have evolved elaborate defence mechanisms to deter predators. The various species of carnivore depend on each other for their survival, and it is an ironical fact that many skilled and powerful carnivores are more vulnerable than the prey they hunt - resulting in the establishment of intricate carnivore societies, like that of the meerkat.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; 1st edition (21 Sep 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563208449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563208440
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 19.6 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 470,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Velvet Claw 23 Mar 2011
By Mrs. P. Clements VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Written by Professor David Macdonald, Head of Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit with many years experience in researching carnivores, this book, like many of his others, does not disappoint. Covering the millions of years of evolution The Velvet Claw explains in fascinating detail, supported by full colour photographs and beautiful illustrations, the adaptation of the two hundred and thirty six species of carnivore into their form we recognise today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The great, as I had expected 19 July 2014
By Sergey
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have received the book just now. I have read 40 pages already. The great, as I had expected.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book 17 April 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Again must admit I am biased as this also is written by my cousin but a really super book and one enjoyed by the whole family.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing drama of survival 23 Sep 2006
By Lynn Harnett - Published on
Dr. David MacDonald's "The Velvet Claw" is a well-organized, well-written, beautifully illustrated synthesis of the author's 20 years of professional involvement with carnivores.

Head of Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, MacDonald begins with an overview of the carnivore's evolutionary rise then devotes a chapter to each of the eight families: civets and genets, cats, dogs, hyaenas, bears, raccoons and coatis, weasels and skunks, and mongooses.

He traces the rise and fall of species (often by their teeth) and explores the drama of survival. When possible, MacDonald refers to anecdotal research from studies worldwide to illuminate behavior patterns, feeding and mating habits. His narrative style is engaging and informative and enhanced by the moments of high action captured in the color illustrations and photographs.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An elegant and enjoyable reading on carnivore evolution 23 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on
This is a very elegant and pleasant book about the ecology and evolution of this magnificent group of animals. Extraordinarily well based on scientific researches, it is written in an impeccable style, that resembles much more a capturing novel than the sometimes boring or elitist scientific literature. The author, one of the scientific leaders in carnivore research in the world, present us with this book a nice example on how to write and present science and its findings as the truly passionate activity that in fact it is. Do not hesitate in obtain a copy of this book if you can find one. It should be considered the possibility of asking the author and the editorial for a reprint.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Velvet Claw Rips 23 Sep 2006
By Lawrwence S. Cleaves - Published on
Best little book on the natural history of carnivores I've read. I'm recommending it to my college professor for his Mammalogy class.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of Carnivore evolution 23 Aug 2005
By Mona Albano - Published on
This special book tells the story of the carnivore family: cats, dogs, weasels, bears, and their kin. In a classic evolutionary pattern, the family tree has branched and been pruned, branched and been pruned, over millions of years. It is based on a BBC television show and has many illustrations. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in natural history, loves animals, wants to understand evolution better, or wants to get to know the Carnivore family. It explains what a carnivore is and introduces us to the few animals descended from the earlier members of the family, such as the Swift Fox. There is a precis at Bob Pickett (dot) org.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The great carnivora history, but... 22 July 1996
By A Customer - Published on
I'm afraid, this book are out-stock (Please, we need new reprint!)
Desafortunadamente, está agotado (Necesitamos una reimpresión!)
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