Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records

Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records

by Mark Carwardine


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Here are the achievers and the unique from the animal world: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates. These are not only familiar records like highest, fastest, largest, these are the unusual, such as slowest growth (the deep sea clam), most pecks in a day (black woodpecker), noisiest bird (booming Kakapo) and worst climber (western fence lizards fall out of their oak tree homes about 12,000 times a year).

There are myth-busters — centipedes have the most legs, not millipedes, and fascinating stories — two "dead" specimens of desert snail were glued onto a museum display tablet only to come out of hibernation four years later. There is a lot of the bizarre (horned lizards from western North America can squirt blood from their eyes) and the ingenious (humpback whales use bubbles as fishing nets).

The mammals, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates are organized by animal order, family and species.
Birds are organized by category. Many animals are described for more than one record e.g., camels and llamas are described for the altitude at which they live and for which is the largest and the smallest. Exceptionality is within each category rather than the entire Animal Kingdom, for example, the largest bat is the flying fox bat but the largest of all land mammals is the elephant and the largest of all animals is the blue whale.

Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records includes almost 900 records that show the diversity and wonder of the animal kingdom:

  • Mammals: 381 records
  • Birds: 133 records
  • Reptiles: 101 records
  • Amphibians: 33 records
  • Fish: 38 records
  • Invertebrates: 191 records.

Science is revealing unknown animal behaviors and finding new species. Behavioral research is adding a new dimension to our knowledge of what animals do, where, why and how. Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records is a fascinating sampling of these amazing discoveries.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781770852693
Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date: 09/08/2013
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Zoologist Mark Carwardine is an award-winning writer, widely published photographer and TV and radio presenter.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents









Acknowledgements and Picture Credits



The Natural History Museum aims to engage people's curiosity of the natural world and encourage its enjoyment and responsible use for the future of our planet. With the help of Mark Carwardine's painstaking research, which lies at the core of this book, and the additional input from many scientists at the Museum, I hope that Animal Records contributes to that aim. At 256 pages it could never cover all the amazing and exceptional animals we share the Earth with, but the selection made introduces readers to some of the most awe-inspiring and intriguing of these animals and will, I hope, whet the appetite to find out more about the world around us.

Each of the major animal groupings (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates) has its own section. Then, where appropriate, these sections are further divided up into orders and families and species — this is the basis of the science the Museum carries out, identifying and naming species and organizing them into systems of classification. Animal Records includes different records for the different groupings, so instead of being a completely comprehensive guide, it aims to include the records that are most relevant and interesting for each type of animal. Throughout the book there are special boxes which highlight some of the top record holders.

One of the saddest things about the state of the world today is how many of the record-breaking animals featured in this book are critically endangered, if not on the verge of extinction. Animal Records does not dwell on the plight of those endangered species. This is partly because the situation changes so rapidly that this type of information risks being inaccurate almost as soon as a book is published, and can therefore be more effectively communicated through other media. It is also because the main aim of this book is to celebrate the wonders of the natural world and particularly its diversity, even though this diversity is under greater threat now than it has ever been.

However, if you want to find out more about endangered animals the best source of information is the World Conservation Union (IUCN) at Through its Species Survival Commission (SSC), IUCN has for more than four decades been assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties and even selected subpopulations on a global scale in order to highlight species threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation. The species assessed for the IUCN Red List are the bearers of genetic diversity and the building blocks of ecosystems, and information on their conservation status and distribution provides the foundation for making informed decisions about conserving biodiversity from local to global levels.

I hope that
Animal Records will excite a feeling of wonder at some of the amazing animals we share this planet with, and inspire readers to get involved in the discovery, understanding, enjoyment and responsible use of the natural world to ensure that the diversity of life on Earth continues.

Michael Dixon
Director, February 2013

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