Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A thousand odd animal facts

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, animals

So why do pandas do handstands? To appear taller...when they're scent marking a tree. Only the males do it, to impress females. Why Pandas Do Handstands (and other curious truths about animals) by Augustus Brown explains this (very) briefly, along with some 900 variously interesting, odd, curious, and cute "truths about animals." Brown has gone to the trouble to list references for many of the items, so as to allay the suspicion that this is a collection of urban legend-level "knowledge".

The eleven sections and 56 subsections group the items together, rather loosely at times. For example, in a section on communication, we find the item

Male bronze-winged jacanas live in a harm ruled by the female of the species. The birds yell when they want to compete for her attention.

Personally, I'd have put this in a sexual habits or "family" structure section. Males everywhere vocalize to get female attention! But the male harem...that's different.

However, the information is generally accurate and few items exceed a short paragraph. It's an interesting miscellany, perhaps fodder for the next time a conversation lags.

No comments: