Disguises are common in nature, but here, Johnson puts the spotlight on nine creatures who take mimicry or camouflage to a whole different level.
From a rain-forest bird called the cinereous mourner, whose fuzzy orange chicks not only look but even move like a certain poisonous caterpillar, to a small spider that builds a big, eerily realistic spider-shaped “puppet” from found materials, most of the lineup here will be new even to well-read young naturalists. Most are also both recent discoveries and the subjects of ongoing study, and after profiling the distinctive capabilities or behaviors of each animal, the author follows up with a “Science behind the Story” introduction to the findings and hypotheses of zoologists engaged in that research. Along with portraits of these scientists in their natural settings (indoors and out), the excellent photos offer revealing views of each insect or other trickster, of select body parts, and of characteristic predators or prey. Rightly expecting that readers are going to want to know more after these tantalizing glimpses, the author closes with professional source notes as well as leads to further general information in print and on the Web.
From an assassin bug’s “Coat of Many Corpses” on, a truly astonishing look at some of nature’s most ingenious predatory or survival strategies. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)