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Outline ReviewOver 2,000 species, from the tiny spider mite to the massive blue whale, are profiled in DK's astonishingly wonderful Animal, produced in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution and more than 70 expert zoologists. To call this book "profusely illustrated" is to seriously underrepresent page after page of breathtaking photos capturing each creature in sharp images, thrumming with life. 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 fishes, so all the classification, behavior, and distribution data is up-to-date and full of the kind of detail that comes from years of professional specialization. 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.
Biodiversity has never been more at the forefront of biologists' concerns, and Animal reports on the issues critical to ecology, from habitat loss to the species that are most endangered within each class.
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. Of necessity, not all species are covered, but as a general source of information down to the genus level, Animal excels. Don't be put off by the price! Extraordinarily beautiful, biologically accurate, and packed with furry, feathery, finny, many-legged delights, Animal is one of the very best science books of 2001. --Therese Littleton
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