Profiles of 24 curious creatures, from the waxy monkey tree frog to Vampyroteuthis infernalis (literally, “vampire squid from hell”).
In introducing his diverse menagerie, Rosen focuses particularly on how each creature uses one or more of its distinctive physical features, such as the claws that give mole crickets “major mining mojo” or the jaws of the Tasmanian devil, which can deliver a bite over 15 times as powerful as the average dog’s. Along with covering basic adaptations to various habitats or niches, he also points to examples of convergent evolution and highlights intriguing recent discoveries—notably a type of fish that can begin altering its body to cope with a drier environment in only a few months, thus hinting at how quickly life might have first moved from the sea. Full taxonomic classifications for each animal accompany side notes on other features and behaviors worthy of mention, and at the end, the author adds generous lists of print and web resources for readers with a yen to dig deeper. The stock photos are a weak point, being too small to have much impact, but Rosen’s narrative (“Finally, the camel spider sprays digestive juices onto the victim, which quickly dissolves into a protein shake that the spider can slurp down with a satisfied ahh!”) offers imagery that’s vivid enough to compensate.
Both budding zoologists and children with even just a mild interest in the natural world will slurp this down. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)