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on 28 January 2005
What can you say about a book that includes chapters on "hairy reptiles;" "terror birds;" "living unicorns;" "crypto-bats;" and "furry fish"? Well, actually, you can say a lot and all of it good! From the examples I selected above, you might think that the book is somewhat of a sensationalized title. But that's far from being true. Karl Shuker's The Beasts That Hide From Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals, is a noteworthy and very welcome addition to the world of monster hunting and the creatures that continue to live alongside us in relative secrecy and obscurity. A scientific fellow of the Zoological Society of London, Shuker is the author of numerous books on wildlife oddities and unknown animals and his latest book never disappoints. For me, the most fascinating sections were those on (a) the Mongolian Death Worm and (b) man-eating trees and "vampire plants." The former is a bizarre worm-like creature that reputedly spits acid-like venom at its victims (and if that isn't enough it also - allegedly - has the power to electrocute them!); while the latter have been reported on a surprisingly regular basis from the darkest corners of the globe. Sounding like something conjured out of the imagination of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft and not unlike the famous Venus Flytrap plant, these critters (can a plant be considered a critter?) are much bigger and badder than their fly catching cousins and have their sights set on far tastier morsels - us! Shuker's book is a first-class look at some of the real and sometimes monstrous oddities that live among us.
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