Except for shibboleths and superstitions, backboneless creatures have little glamor- and when Mr. Oliver starts off with some chilling iconoclasms about warts from a toad, the longevity of turtles, and hoop-rolling among snakes, he shows- in a friendly enough way- his scientific earnestness. His tendency throughout is to be exact and comprehensive, but he is no sense a technical boor. Dismissing the curiosity value of his animals, Mr. Oliver has also to confess their meagre economic utility. Good for handbags, sold often as pets, appetizing in the form of the frog's lower extremities, and a sine qua non of anatomical and physiological research in the laboratory, the amphibians and reptiles need have only a few fears from human predators. What remains to be discussed are their habits and habitats, how they hibernate and procreate, their classification in the animal kingdom. The wealth of precise information on these major points carries the stamp of final authority, and benefits from an unusual gift for organization. Important to zoologists, the work also has valid implications for palaeontology, morphology, and the more general problems of ecology.