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An interesting and thoroughly researched treatment of marvels of natural history by one of the best known science writers in America. The book is divided into five sections: Myth, Records in Stone, Oceanic Mysteries, Six Fabulous Islands, and Witnesses of the Past -- which present fact and folklore about such unnatural and natural creatures as the unicorn, vegetable animals, pygmies, the abominable snowman, the kraken (giant squid), the first bird, the platypus, the lungfish, tortoises, sea serpents, the toreke from New Zealand, the ""living fossil"" fish, Latimeria, and others. It is a careful, systematic report on natural oddities that has lost much of the excitement and ignored some of the human interest that has been captured in Heuvelman's On The Track of Unknown Animals and Wendt's Out of Noah's Ark. Yet it presents the clearest account of the abominable snowman, shows how paleontologists work at recreating the original condition of their finds, tells of the machinations in the buying and selling of fossils, and gives a fascinating, reliable description of sea serpents, ending with Ley's opinion that there may yet be discovered a large unknown animal of the seas. For those who own Willy Ley's other books: The Lungfish, the Dodo, and the Unicorn; Dragons in Amber; and Salamanders and Other Wonders, from which this material was drawn, up-dated and added to,- this may not be a good buy. As an omnibus of exotic zoology, it is better written than the books mentioned above; and though more thorough in certain areas, not as comprehensive as these. Especially for the student with inclinations toward natural history.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1959
Publisher: Viking