The world's wildest collection of animal knowledge and lore!
Lions, and tigers, and bears . . . and dinosaurs, dragons, and monsters. Oh my!
For hundreds of years, the most popular books in the Western world next to the Bible were "bestiaries," fanciful encyclopedias collecting all of human knowledge and mythology about the animal kingdom. In these pages, eagles and elephants lived next to griffins and sea monsters. Now, in The Big, Bad Book of Beasts, award-winning author Michael Largo has updated the medieval bestsellers for the twenty-first century, illuminating little-known facts, astonishing secrets, and bizarre superstitions about the beasts that inhabit our world—and haunt our imaginations. You'll learn about the biggest bug ever, the smallest animal in the world, and the real creatures that inspired the fabled unicorns. You'll discover how birds learned to fly, why cats rub against your legs, and a thousand other facts that will make you look at nature in a wonderfully new way.
Did you know?
The fastest animal in the world is the peregrine falcon, which reaches speeds of over 200 miles per hours.
Circus ringmaster P.T. Barnum fooled many when he displayed a "mermaid" carcass that was later proved to be monkey bones sewed together with the body of a fish.
Discovered in a remote volcanic crater in New Guinea, the Bosavi wolly rat grows to the size of a cat.
President Andrew Jackson bought an African gray parrot to keep his wife company. The bird outlived them both and was removed from Jackson's funeral for cussing in both English and Spanish.
A to Z: From Aardvark to Zooplankton!
For all ages!
Includes 289 illustrations!
Like the medieval bestiaries that Largo (Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die) emulates, this book doesn't limit itself to familiar or even real animals: nestled between aardvarks and zooplankton, you'll find long-extinct creatures like the jaekelopterus an ancestor to the scorpion that grew to be eight feet tall and completely fictional beasts like the half-dog, half-reptile chupacabra. Averaging between two and three pages each, the entries are written in an informal tone and peppered with illustrations and trivia (hamsters, for instance, were once banned from Vietnam, giving rise to an "underground hamster culture"). Reading the book feels like an evening's jaunt through a particularly engaging version of Wikipedia. Sometimes, though, Largo is able to capture a more elusive and even more enjoyable sensation: that of being a child on that first trip to the zoo or natural history museum, or the dinosaur section of the library who isn't interested in medieval lessons about "daring and sloth, loyalty and cowardice," nor contemplations on "what makes us essentially human and at the same time so similar to animals." No, the much simpler thought process that this book should be proud to elicit is just one joyful word: cool! B&w illus throughout.