Strange Animals – Tom Jackson

This book combines two of my favourite things, photography and fun facts. Because I’ve devoured so many books with fascinating, adorable and weird animals over the years, there wasn’t a lot of information that was new to me here. It was still an entertaining read, though, and I loved the photos.

It’s always hard to choose my favourite facts. This time around I’ve picked two from each section: Asia, Africa, Australasia, North America, Central & South America, Europe and Oceans. They’re a combination of my favourite animals, photos and facts.

A tarsier’s eye is bigger than its brain.

At around 35cm (14 inches) from snout to tail, the tokay is the world’s largest gecko.

Photo of a torkay

A naked mole-rat queen “controls her workers using chemicals in her urine.”

The African fat-tailed gecko uses the fat stored in its tail when food becomes scarce.

Photo of an African fat-tailed gecko

The duck-billed platypus detects electrical currents produced by its prey with its bill.

Echidnas are related to the platypus. “It too lays eggs, and the pointed snout is sensitive to electricity given out by insect prey.”

Photo of an echidna

The thorn bug is a treehopper. “It sits on a twig and jabs its pointed mouthpart into plants.”

The rubber boa ties itself in a knot when it’s threatened.

Photo of a rubber boa

The pink river dolphin is born grey. When its skin rubs against objects, it becomes pinker.

The axolotl was named after the Aztec god of fire and lightning.

Photo of an axolotl

The wisent (European bison) is Europe’s largest wild land animal.

The Atlantic puffin’s diet consists solely of fish.

Photo of an Atlantic puffin

The Christmas tree worm grows on coral reefs around the world.

The Pacific hagfish have a “spiral of teeth that they twist into corpses to drill out a cylinder of flesh.”

Photo of a Pacific hagfish

NB: The images I’ve included in my review are screenshots of the eARC. The colours may look different in the book.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Amber Books for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

How does a mudskipper fish manage to “walk” on land? Why is the Hoatzin also known as ‘The Stinkbird’? And once the female Pipa toad has laid her eggs, where does she put them?

The answers? The mudskipper can “walk” using its pectoral fins, the Hoatzin has a unique digestive system which gives the bird a manure-like odour, and the female Pipa Toad embeds its eggs on its back where they develop to adult stage.

Illustrated throughout with outstanding colour photographs, Strange Animals presents the most unusual aspects of 100 of the most unusual species. The selection spans a broad spectrum of wildlife, from the tallest land living mammal, the giraffe, to the light, laughing chorus of Australian kookaburra birds, from the intelligence of the Bottlenose dolphin to octopuses that change colour when they dream to the slow pace of the three-toed sloth.

Arranged geographically, the photographs are accompanied by fascinating captions, which explain the quirky characteristics of each entry. Including egg-laying mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, cannibalistic insects and other invertebrates, Strange Animals is a compelling introduction to some of nature’s most curious beasts.

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