Customer Reviews: Animal Skulls: A Guide to North American Species
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars50
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on December 15, 2006
This is a thorough and well-written book, which goes into great detail about the skulls of each North American mammal species, in addition to having a section on birds and reptiles/amphibians. The first several chapters, which I found surprisingly readable given the technical subject matter, are devoted to identifying skull bones and landmarks as well as interpreting the function and meaning behind various skull features, determining age and sex, and even obtaining, cleaning and preparing your own animal skulls. What I found most helpful in this book were the real-life sized illustrations of both skulls and jaws, which the author conveniently locates in one section of the book, for easy comparison. I was amazed at how easy it was to identify skulls I had found in years past- skulls that I had spent hours attempting to identify using information pieced together from the internet and other sources. This book is not only incredibly thorough and rich with information, but also well-organized and easy to understand, with helpful diagrams and plenty of beautiful, detailed illustrations. Overall, it is an excellent book that I will be sure to refer back to many times in the future.
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on December 11, 2006
A complete book on skulls was not available until this one was so beautifully put together. Elbroch introduces the rather complex study of skulls in such a way that anyone can easily learn the language and terms to more precisely discuss and understand their many and varied features. He goes well beyond simply identifying what species a given skull is from and delves into functions of structures of the skull, how they change with age as well as how they compare with those of other species (not to mention variations found within a given species). Mammals (and their jaws, 188 in all), birds (71), amphibians and reptiles (13) are covered in great detail within the 700+ pages of this book. Clear color prints, drawings and heaps of data round out what I believe to be the most comprehensive guide of its kind. Well done Mark and well worth the cost.
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on February 26, 2007
Outstanding book...wonderful photos of animal skulls...I was able to identify a fragment of a skull that I found by using this book. I know that it's the upper jaw of a house cat instead of a bobcat because of the small premolar tooth that bobcats and lynxes never have, cougars and ocelots always have, and house cats sometimes have. Should be on every naturalist's bookshelf.
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on February 19, 2009
I am a college student majoring in Wildlife Management. Identifying skulls is a very important skill for any biologist to have. This book gives a good introduction to the bones of the skull and how to measure the different regions of the skull. I wish that I would have had this book last semester while I was taking Mammalogy because we spent a vast amount of time learning to identify skulls. Larger animals are relatively easy but when you are dealing with small rodents, bats, or shrews... identifying the skulls can be a daunting task to someone without the knowledge or experience. There is a good representation of many of the mammal skulls of North America, as well as a fair amount of bird skulls. There were only a couple things that I found somewhat lacking in the book. There were only a handful of reptile/amphibian skulls in the book, however there were enough for someone unfamiliar to the skulls to get a general feel of the shape and form. Also, I would have liked to have seen some fish skulls displayed. Overall though, a great book and possibly the best addition to my personal library that I have made.
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on October 16, 2015
Without a doubt, this is the best book on skulls ever written. If you live in North America, and want to know a *LOT* about the skulls of the animals on the continent (primarily mammals, but the book does also cover birds, reptiles, and amphibians in a more limited fashion), there is no better resource. I teach mammalogy at our local university, and waited a few years to buy my own copy of this book, since our campus library had one. Now that I have my own copy I don't have to borrow it over and over again, and can go through it anytime I want. Definitely my go-to resource for all things pertaining to cranial osteology.

As a side note, I don't really follow celebrities, but I'm a fan of Mark Elbroch. Everything of his that I've seen has been absolutely stellar. Books of his that I've seen and LOVE include this one, Mammal Tracks & Sign: A Guide to North American Species,Bird Tracks & Sign : A Guide to North American Species, and Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks: Third Edition (Peterson Field Guides). All full of excellent info, and eminently readable while remaining authoritatively written. This guy really knows his stuff.
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VINE VOICEon February 22, 2016
I love this book. I was in charge of cleaning a donated collection of skulls and identifying them. I had been eyeballing this book for a very long time and finally had a great reason to purchase it. There are some smaller skulls that are actual size in the book, these pages came in immensely handy. We were able to identify the 100 or so skulls that came in. I was also able to use this for teeth and jaw identification.
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on October 31, 2014
I've used this book to identify a handful of skulls I've found in the wild. It points out the differences to watch for and similar species and in the end I've felt confident with my identification. It's a really fun process and I absolutely love, love, love this book! If you are into nature and would bother picking up a skull then should love having this book!
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on September 10, 2014
I love that most of the skulls have full size illustrations which makes identification of unknown skulls so much easier. I can just place the skull right over the picture, as well as use it for a side by side comparison. Obviously large skulls are not going to fit on the pages of this book, and those images are reduced, but still very helpful. You could blow them up on a photocopier to get them closer to "life size" if you needed to. The illustrations are pretty good quality and nicely detailed. I also like the section that includes a variety of ways to clean and whiten skulls. My only minor complaint is that I wish there was instructional information included on gluing the teeth back in after cleaning the skulls, such as which glues are the best kinds to use and why. If you can only afford one book on this subject, this one is excellent to start with.
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on January 7, 2007
This is the book that trackers and naturalists have needed for a long time. It's finally here and it's outstanding! Now when I take apart an owl pellet I'll be able to determine what the owl was eating, and hence what small wildlife is abundant in that area. And when I'm out and discover part of a skull from a mammal, bird, amphibian, or reptile, I'll be able to find what that is too. Mark Elbrock has done it again: an instant classic, and a book that all trackers and naturalists should have in their collection.
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on March 3, 2014
This book is an excellent reference book. Just recently, it helped to identify a skull as a deer (rather than a goat). It has a good detailed section on all mammals. I would recommend it to others who are interested in this field.
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