‘Animal Records’ educates, entertains

By A Contributor

Perhaps one of these days, I’ll have the opportunity to visit the Natural History Museum in London. But, for now, I will be satisfied with the colorful and descriptive “Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records.”

Mark Carwardine, along with numerous researchers, artists and photographers, has assembled one of the most intriguing sources of natural history that I have come across thus far.

I can almost guarantee that most people—children, teens, adults and the elderly—will be thrilled with this enormous wealth of information that resembles an extravagant encyclopedia.

Where else could you find curious information, sometimes strange or weird, regarding the worst smelling “anuran,” the Venezuela skunk frog which had been a newly discovered species (1991) in the cloud forests of the Venezuela Andes? The skunk frog releases a nasty smelling chemical that is surprisingly the same compound as the one emitted by the familiar mammalian skunks. Yes, who else but Pepe La’ Pew could fall in love with that frog!

And what’s this about self-cannibalism? It happens with certain skinks that have the unfortunate close encounter with an enemy. These skinks return to the scene of the crime where they lost their tails and proceed to eat them.

What animal is able to disappear into the ground in less than a minute? If you said the echidna, you are correct. The somewhat odd-looking animal digs with all four feet at the same time rather than burrowing headfirst as most other mammals do.

Every page of this incredible book will keep you glued to your chair or couch.Many of the species that are described in fascinating detail are endangered and threatened by extinction.

Carwardine and his staff of conservationists and environmentalists are 100 percent focused on educating the public about the necessity of protecting these animals. From a certain species of flea and the crawling creature with the most legs, to the Siberian tiger, the vampire bat who is the world-record holder of blood drinking and the most dangerous, tiny aquatic snail that is a crucial link to the development of a tropical disease known as “schistosomiasis,” the scientists do their best to teach people that these species have a purpose to thrive on earth, in the ocean or in the sky.

When it involves reptiles, which is the noisiest? It’s the crocodile that is capable of making all sorts of roars, coughs, hisses and bellows.

The only species of bear that actively preys on people is the polar bear.

The fluffy, white cubs might be sweet, but you don’t want to come face-to-face with an adult polar bear, especially a mama polar bear traveling with her brood.

The “Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records” will not disappoint. Divided into sections, starting with mammals and ending with crustaceans, each section is further divided into different categories, such as “the largest,” “the fastest,” “the most bizarre defense,” “most venomous on land and sea,” “the tallest and the shortest,” “the most dangerous,” “the longest living” and so forth. Inside this book, you’ll find something unusual or different, contrary to what you might have originally thought, such as with the female yellow-streaked tenrec. She can breed three to five weeks after birth.

Winner of Best of the Best in the Museums and Heritage Awards 2013, the Natural History Museum of London is a leading science research center that continues to attract visitors worldwide. Some of the attractions offered include “Mammoths: Ice Age Giants,” “Bat Festival” and “Sensational Butterflies Exhibition.” Go to www.nhm.ac.uk to learn more.

Like the book, the museum is never boring.

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