Friday, February 19, 2010

Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Karl P.N. Shuker

I tried hard to read this one slowly, savoring it. I do love this guy's books. Extraordinary Animals Revisited is an updated edition of Dr. Shuker's 1991 book Extraordinary Animals Worldwide. Shuker is a zoologist with a strong interest in cryptozoology--the study of animals that may or may not actually exist, or which are poorly understood, thought to be extinct, or which show up in places far from their known habitats, etc. It's a fascinating field and Shuker ranges widely, discussing the legends surrounding the deathshead hawk moth in one chapter, exploring the possible real-life birds that were inspiration for the phoenix myth, covering the types of unknown canids reported all over the world, and examining extinct birds that might not necessarily be extinct after all.

It's endlessly fascinating, full of details and anecdotes. I eat this stuff up. I didn't realize that some people might find it a little bit dry in spots until I was reading aloud to Jackie (she was a captive audience since she was using my computer for something) from the chapter about unusual mice and rats.

I don't find it dry at all. If you can't keep track of Latin names of animals, you can just mentally bleep over them. Don't worry, none of this will be on the final.

I appreciate that Shuker doesn't focus on the old crytozoological standbys, like the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti. Like his other books (this is the third of his that I've read), he digs a little deeper than most writers to find the overlooked and obscure. The book has an extensive bibliography and recommended reading section as well as an index. Oh, and there's even a chapter on hoaxes.

If you're interested in animals and the mysteries of the natural world, but you're sick of poorly researched articles on Bigfoot, you really need to read Shuker's books.

B&N link

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