Life in the Wild
Thomas Marent
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Life in the Wild
Thomas Marent
DK Publishing
360 pages
September 2009
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Life in the Wild takes away the usual distance that separates people from wildlife. The raven and the gray wolf and the polar bear look so close you can see the snowflakes on their faces. You can count over fifty sharp teeth in the open mouth of the reef lizardfish and see the shadow illuminating bits of skin that hang from a leaf-tailed gecko’s lower jaw.

Divided into five chapters (mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish, and invertebrates), the color photographs that appear in this book remind us that there is something to admire in all types of wildlife. There is the multipurpose bill of the shoebill bird, which can be used to take on a young crocodile or transport water to overheating shoebill chicks. The tokay gecko from Asia can walk across ceilings because of the hairs that cover its feet, and the flying gurnard can use its fins to swim or its pelvic rays to “walk.” No matter which chapter you are in, you will find some of the most beautiful and colorful wildlife in the world. The lilac-breasted roller has purple, orange, yellow and blue feathers. The black panther’s fur looks as smooth and soft as velvet, and the freshwater crayfish from Australia has cherry-red markings on its bright blue body.

A small paragraph of information appears next to every photograph. Appearing in white font against black backgrounds, they combine details about diet, habitat, camouflage, and size with one or two interesting facts. For example, beside the photograph of the black panther is this paragraph:

Until recently, the black panther was, erroneously, regarded as a species on its own right. “Melanism” occurs in a number of cat species; jaguars (Panthera onca) and leopards (Pantherna pardus) both sometimes produce animals with much more melanin (a dark pigment) than normal. These black individuals are known as black panthers. Closer examination of their silky skin reveals their normal markings “underneath” the black. Most black leopard sightings are in Asia, rather than Africa. Black jaguars are found in the New World.
A beautiful book with universal appeal, Life in the Wild can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Tanya Boudreau, 2010

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