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The Life of Mammals


Publisher:Princeton University Press



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About the book:

There are over four and a half thousand different kinds of mammals alive today. How many can you name? Many will not be entirely clear about what it is that makes a mammal rather than a reptile or bird, apart from egg laying. But then what about egg-laying mammals such as the platypus and echidna? The Life of Mammals describes and illustrates the remarkable diversity of mammals from the giant blue whale to the miniscule pigmy shrew. The cachet of David Attenborough's name and distinctive voice comes through clearly from the text and there's a stunning selection of photographs, by the best wildlife photographers in the world. The Life of Mammals is worth getting even if you just like wildlife pictures, for there are many here that you will not have seen before--the Brazilian tapir, the hairy rhino of Sumatra, the Pyrenean desman and more.

Attenborough certainly has the knack of making good stories for the general reader out of what, in other hands, can be rather dry science. He manages to weave in a great deal about the evolutionary story behind the success of the mammals over the last 65 million years since the dinosaurs bit the dust. Also, because of all the careful research behind the TV programmes, he is pretty well up to speed on many of the scientific developments in our understanding of our biologically nearest if not necessarily dearest relatives. This is especially true when the story gets around to our closest primate cousins--the apes. All the recent discoveries about tool use and culture are included.

The Life of Mammals will make a perfect gift for anyone from the age of about 10 upwards and hopefully a whole new generation will know what a kinkajou, cacomistle or a uakiri are. The only quibble is there's no further-reading list to fuel new enthusiasms lit up by this excellent book. --Douglas Palmer.

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