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Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife Paperback – September 19, 2005

94 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Over 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Stunning photographs (e.g., of wolves snarling over a half-eaten meal or a falcon's perspective as it perches on a city roof) will elevate this book beyond a coffee-table or reference shelf existence. Every aspect of the book seizes attention. The first 80 pages clarify information on classification, habitats and behavior with charts, maps, photographs and illustrations. The remaining six chapters focus on numerous specific species and subspecies, divided into broad groups: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates. Readers learn, for instance, that the curlew's long, curved beak is touch-sensitive for seeking out food hidden in mud and sand; plovers, on the other hand, though they share the curlew's habitat, have short bills for picking up food they can see. The editors provide endangered-species information at the end of each chapter. The varying size and shape of the photographs some cropped cleanly around their subject, some showing the interaction of the animal with its environment compel the reader onward, as do the assorted full-page spreads and action sequences (e.g., of a whale breaching). Text entries are both edifying and brief. But for its heft, this book is almost impossible to put down. (Oct.)Forecast: With so much visual and textual stimulus for both children and adults, this title is destined to become a staple in bookstores.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: DK (September 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756616344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756616342
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.4 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #415,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Janet Boyer HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
My husband and I saw this book in a large bookstore chain last week and were totally intrigued. It was displayed near the checkout counter and the colorful cover photo of the fierce, unusual mandrill caught our eye.

When I picked up the book, it was HEAVY. Very heavy. It weighs more than my cats! (We're talking about eleven pounds here.)

We flipped through the pages, utterly fascinated by the arresting color photos and intriguing information offered for hundreds of animals. Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish, Invertabrates--they're all here.

Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife introduces readers to the principles of classification and even provides a colorful chart for the classification levels. The book describes Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species and how they apply to all the animals. (Remember 8th grade biology and having to learn all this?!). Throughout the book, mini-charts are extrapolated for each creature so you know their classification at a glance.

For example, tiger classification would be:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Genus: Panthera

Species: Panthera tigris

In addition to the classification system, the Introduction discusses Habitats such as grasslands, desert, tropical forest, mountains, polar regions, coral reefs, and more.

The colorful photographs are stunning, showing a wide variety of species. For example, you won't find one type of monkey. You'll find many--*with* color pictures and stats.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By JLind555 on December 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Animal" is probably THE book to have if you want to have a reference to animal life on earth. Awesomely designed, stunningly photographed, meticulously organized, this book is an absolute treasure house. Visually it's unbelievably gorgeous; the design and organization are inspired; the photographs are breathtaking; it's easy to read and fun to browse through. It's hefty (over 8 pounds)and packed with references to most of the known animal genera on this planet. As beautiful as it is, this is no "coffee table" tome designed for show; "Animal" is an extremely valuable reference that will be used and explored over and over again... And at's price (...) it's the book bargain of the decade. This is one book you'll want to share with your family for generations to come.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sandra D. Peters on November 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
(...)If you are an animal lover, or want to use the book as a reference guide, this book will appeal to you. (...) To date I have seen no other book quite like it on any book shelf. Every fact and aspect of animal life is included here and the photographs are absolutely out of this world! Classification, behaviour, habitat and everything you wanted to know about each species in the animal kingdom is contained here and it is quite in-depth. What a wonderful gift this would make for that special animal lover on your list, and it would also make an excellent coffee table book for yourself.
(...) Highly recommended and worth a million stars in rating.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David J Range on August 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is simpy outstanding. Few books can rival the wide scope offered by Animal on a vast range of organisms which include invertebrates, birds, reptiles, mammals, fish, and amphibians. The book is adorned with magnificent color photos of each organism and a compact description that provides adequate amounts of info on the organism. Although some common species are excluded, it more than makes up for this with the amount of species covered. For every common species excluded, I ran across three new species I had never heard of. This book is an extraordinary guide to the vast array of wildlife in the world. There are few books that I have found as informative and enjoyable to read as Animal. It truly is a definitive guide to the world's wildlife and I highly recommend it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gavin Scott on October 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this book on a whim after Amazon used it as one of the examples of their new feature that lets you look at pages of a book online before ordering it. It arrived today and I really am impressed. It's a large format, boxed, hardcover edition... It weighs a little over eight pounds.
This book is just amazing. DK have been making "pretty" books for a long time that haven't impressed me too much as far as the content goes, but this one shows that they are starting to get very good at it. The book looks quite comprehensive and the pictures are just gorgeous.
I'm probably going to order a few more copies as holiday gifts, since this looks like something that kids would love, and (all together now) it's educational!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By smellthebreeze on December 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
(...) It has the most stunning lay-out, the greatest detail (so famously done by the Eyewitness people from Dorling Kindersley) and the most fascinating information! Every page that talks about the creatures has mini maps of the world colored in so you can get the idea where the creatures live. You will be so knocked out as to how much DETAIL this heavy book can supply you! When you open the front of the book there is a neat spread of fish swimming out at you...close the book and the side where all the pages come together make a beautiful rainbow of color. I cannot express how amazing the pictures and photography are and how much information is in this book... The book also comes with a nice, sturdy slipcase made of cardboard with a picture exactly like the cover of the book for the cover of this slipcase. (...) you cannot miss this one!! A+++++++++!!
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