Tag Archives: Zoology


Litercurious Book Review

Ocean Planet by Ben Rothery
TitleOcean Planet: Animals of the Sea and Shore
(Part of The Rothery’s Animal Planet Series)
AuthorBen Rothery
Publisher Tilbury House Publishers (October 5, 2021)
GenreChildren’s Environment & Ecology,
Children’s Zoology, Children’s Marine Life
Language English
ISBN# 10/130884489167 / 978-0884489160



Author and Illustrator of Ocean Planet – A Marine Life Book for children aged 9-12 years. Ben lives in London and works from his small studio in the capital . See more here.


Ocean Planet, by Ben Rothery, is an exceptional work for children. Rothery’s stupendously executed illustrations bring nature to life. Although Rothery’s exquisite masterpiece is meant for children aged 9-12 years, I believe that the book has a much broader appeal.

Ocean Planet covers a diverse range of wildlife as varied as the marine birds-of-the-air to the bacteria living in hydrothermal vents in the depths of the oceans. The book covers everything from the tiniest of microscopic organisms, also known as plankton, to the largest underwater species – the Blue Whale. Although Rothery primarily focuses on the marine environment, he also includes land animals and their environments and habitats. Polar Bears, Leopard Seals, and Penguins are not neglected; nor are the Wolves of British Columbia or the Bengal Tigers of the mangroves of north-west India.

Rothery shares his enthusiasm for his subjects with large, full color, high definition plates. All the plates are accompanied by comprehensive introductions to the relevant facts, figures, and details about the individual subjects. Rothery’s unbridled enthusiasm for nature and his undeniable skill coalesce into a joyful, engaging, and edifying experience. Ocean Planet is a true work of art in every sense of the word.


Ocean Planet is a banquet for the eyes, a stimulant for the mind, and a tonic for the soul. A thing of beauty is a joy forever, and so it is with Ben Rothery’s magnificently illustrated work. It is not an over-statement to say that this book is truly epic.

The illustrations are bordering on hyperrealistic and are so well executed that they move ones soul and strain credulity. That one man could create with his primitive tools such a magnificent panoply of life like, natural subjects is truly an impressive feat.

Do you have a favorite book from your childhood? Does the thought of it even now stir your memory and take you back to more innocent, happy days? Well Ocean Planet, by Ben Rothery could be that legacy for your child. Please do not take my word for it, I encourage you to get a copy and decide for yourself.

This book makes a great gift; but take care, it is such a valuable jewel that you may well claim it for yourself. I have to admit Ocean Planet is on the top of my gift list this year, and I cannot wait to own a stunning copy.


Rating: 5 out of 5.


I would like to thank Ben Rothery, Tilbury House Publishers (October 5, 2021), and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Ocean Planet: Animals of the Sea and Shore.


MONKEYS: Apes, Gorillas and Other Primates – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Monkeys Apes, Gorillas and other Primates by Tom Jackson
TitleMonkeys: Apes, Gorillas and other Primates
AuthorTom Jackson
PublisherAmber Books (November 2, 2021)
Pages 224 
GenreNatural History, Zoology, Primatology
ISBN# 10/131838861009 / 978-1838861001


Tom Jackson


Monkeys: Apes, Gorillas and other Primates by Tom Jackson is a photo illustrative catalogue of primates. This monograph contains 150 high quality full color plates of the worlds monkeys, apes and other primates. The images are presented with concise descriptions or details about the relevant primate. Perfect for all those young and old who find monkeys fascinating.


Monkeys: Apes, Gorillas and other Primates from Amber Books, my favorite publisher of picture books in the industry, satisfies every expectation. Within its 224 image filled pages there is a plethora of different kinds of primates. Tom Jackson did an excellent job of collating the information regarding their anatomy, behaviors, family structures, and relatives. This work completes the circle and enlightens the mind and the soul. An ideal gift that will keep on giving for anyone of any age.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


I would like to thank Tom Jackson, Abrams Press, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Monkeys: Apes, Gorillas and other Primates .





Click on image for more
Title The Truth About Animals
Author Lucy Cooke
Publisher Basic Books; I Edition (April 17, 2018)
Format Paperback
Pages 352
Language English
ISBN # 1541674081 (ISBN-13: 978-1541674080)


Lucy Cooke has a Master’s in Zoology from British New Collage, Oxford. She specializes in animal behavior and evolution. Among Lucy’s professors at Oxford was Richard Dawkins, who is a world-renowned Zoologist and author. Lucy is passionate about conservation as well as her love of all sloth kind. She is referred to as the next David Attenborough in some circles.

Her Curriculum Vitae includes a diverse range of skills including: television producer, director, award- winning documentary presenter, and filmmaker. Lucy has lecture at TED talks, was a New York Times best-selling author, and founded the Sloth Appreciation Society.

In May, 2015 at the age of 45, Lucy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She changed her lifestyle as a result of the diagnosis and has an increased appreciation of life and love.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.



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Title How To Clone A Mammoth
Author Beth Shapiro
Publisher Princeton University Press (April 6, 2015)
Format Hardcover, Kindle, Paperback, Audiobook
Pages 220
Language English
ISBN # 0691157057 (ISBN-13: 978-0691157054)


Beth Shapiro is literally a genius: at least that is what the administrators of the MacArthur Fellowship, known by some as The Genius Fund, believe. Most of us would be pleased with that alone, but Beth is resplendent with titles, honors, and holds a DPhil from Oxford; the University not the library. She is a Rhodes Scholar and has worked for some of the premier companies and organizations in the world; which includes the Welcome Trust where she became the Director of the Henry Welcome Biomolecules Centre. Her specialty is in Molecular Biology and Evolution

Beth is no Dodo, but she has analyzed its mitochondrial DNA. She is the author of a plethora of scientific publications.

Her Doctoral Thesis citation is: Shapiro, Beth, and A. J. Cooper. Inferring Evolutionary History and Processes Using Ancient DNA (2003). I did try to obtain a copy of her thesis but it is in a closed stack at Oxford’s store house and is currently unavailable except by request.

The Author spoke at TEDx conference in March 2013. I have included a link to the recent TEDx Conference “De-Extinction” for anyone who feels the book might be for right for them but still wants more information. If you visit the site you will hear directly from Beth Shapiro and what she is currently working on when she isn’t writing epic books.



Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is the greatest favor you will ever do to your intellect; no small praise.

This book is a distillation of decades of education rolled up in occasional irreverent humor and suffused with hard science. No, not the kind of science you had in grade school where the Biology Master lorded over you because you were more ignorant than he or she. Beth Shapiro doesn’t assume any pre-knowledge of the subject matter yet she infuses you the with facts and her enthusiasm.

I am going to be honest, even if you hated science as a child you will still enjoy this book. You will learn the fundamentals of the science of De-Extinction. The gamut in this text is huge, spanning a myriad of scientific disciplines over decades of study in the field of re-animation of the extinct – the Lazarus of our time.

While this subject is a weighty one, the delivery is not. I would compare it to a fine wine or exquisite champagne. It is full flavored, heavy on the heady stuff, and lingers on long after the taste has disappeared.

I struggle to find a comparison here in terms of the authors style. There have been some who compare Beth Shapiro to a Mary Roach. Whilst I chow down on Mary Roach with her sometimes pithily style, I slowly savor the heady mix of the leading new science of Beth Shapiro. The multitudinal cross over of disciplines that are woven together by Beth creates a masterpiece of scientific literature. Never heard of epigenetics? You will here; and you will come away with an appreciation of the enormity of this vast, complicated, and ethically challenging subject of re-birthing the dead.

Bob the builder says “we can do this,” but Beth asks “should we do this?” Should we? Is it ethical to bring back long dead animals in a world struggling with scarce resources? What about the risks versus the rewards? These are questions that Beth takes head on. In a TEDx conference, she expresses her reluctance in some aspects of the potential issues relating to the cloning of extinct species. The book does not dwell on the negative; its focus is on the how, rather than the why.

Perhaps we should talk about who the book isn’t for. If you suffer from Post Traumatic Study Dysmorphia (PTSd) this book may not rock your world.

I know that most people have no current knowledge of Mammon Telophase, but they will if they give this book some attention. I know there are some who could care less if an elephant has a self repairing hymen – yes that is true! What I hope readers take from this review about How to Clone a Mammoth is this technology will impact your life. Once Artificial Intelligence (AI), Quantum Computing, and De-Extinction technology combine, our world will never be the same; ever. This book is your opportunity to start learning just how much this new science will impact you and yours for all future generations.

This is worse than a “Honey, the kids have found the matches” situation; it’s a “Honey, the kids have found the key to Pandora’s Box and they are about to open it” situation.

I cannot express to you the importance of this work. If you never read another book, you need to read this one; and then read all the associated information. This isn’t a pseudoscience idea; it is absolutely real and time is short. As the apex predator, we have impacted our environment and believe that we have contained it; brought it too heel, so to speak. However, the potential for a ‘monster’ we cannot put back in the box that: outperforms us, outlives us, or outkills us is a genuine possibility.

URL: https://press.princeton.edu/titles/10415.html

Literary Awards: https://www.goodreads.com/award/show/34115-aaas-subaru-sb-f-prize-for-excellence-in-science-books

Also by this Author: Ancient DNA: Methods and Protocols (Shapiro, Beth and Michael Hofreiter) Published (2012)



Litercurious Book Review

TitleA Curious Collection of Peculiar Creatures:
An Illustrated Encyclopedia
AuthorSami Bayly
PublisherThe Experiment (October 27, 2020)
FormatKindle, Hardcover
Page 128
GenreChildren’s Non-Fiction, Animals, Children’s Zoology


Sami Bayly is a natural history illustrator based in Newcastle. She loves all things, weird and wonderful. She finds the beauty and importance of all animals regardless of their appearance, and hopes to share her appreciation with others.

Sami’s first book, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals, won the Children’s Indie Book of the Year Award. It was shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award, the ABIA Book of the Year for Younger Children, and the Australian Book Design Awards. It was longlisted for the ABA Booksellers’ Choice 2020 Book of the Year Awards.


Weird and wonderfully strange creatures are presented on a double page spread per subject. Utilizing an infographic style, the page layout includes a one-page description and a page covering the particulars of each creature; such as: where they live, what they eat, their conservation status and fun facts.

The key illustrations are large, colorful and life-like. In addition, there are pen and ink sketches depicting the creature in focus from different perspectives. There are also infographics depicting an average sized man next to each creature to allow the viewer to establish scale. All of these descriptive annotations are displayed on a velum colored background.

There are 61 examples of curious creatures continued within the 128 pages. What follows are a few examples of the fascinating animals, fish, birds and invertebrates that you can find in Bayly’s enchanting work:

RETICULATED STARGAZER – Dactyloscopus Foraminosus Blanchardi

This diminutive fish is literally nightmare fuel. The Reticulated Stargazer projects a terrifying countenance enhanced by the full page color image. With large eyes protruding from the top if its head as it languishes half-buried in sand and a mouth full of sharp dirty teeth; the thought of an encounter with this mini monster is sobering. At only three inches long, it blends skillfully into the environment. This is quite alarming when you realize that this tiny terror can deliver a shock of 50 volts from between its eyes. If electrocution isn’t bad enough, it can inject you with venom from two spines on its back. If all this were not disgusting enough, the Reticulated Stargazer has the propensity to burp back the scales of it’s last meal.

Consider for a moment that these were the fun facts about this fish.

SARCASTIC FRINGEHEAD – Neoclinus Blanchardi

Looking like an off-world monster with a disarticulated hinged jaw, the Sarcastic Fringehead is a vision from a horror movie. So violent it attacks fishermen, who as a result avoid them like the plague. They enjoy the luxury of having few natural threats, and it is thought that this is partially the reason for their aggression. Fortunately, these omnivores are deep sea fish who consume squid, plankton, crustaceans, and small fish. Their habitat is off the Coast of California and Mexico, 195 feet down in the depths.

TARDIGRADE – Tardigrada

Tardigrade are better known as the Water Bear. They are invertebrates that live three months to two and a half years. However, if they become dormant, they can last as long aa thirty years in stasis. Some are hermaphroditic; also known as intersex, while others can clone themselves. Tardigrade’s can survive in temperature extremes as well as being capable of cryptobiosis. They are cannibalistic and can also use tubes to suck juices from moss, algae, and bacteria. They are survivors and have been around for over 500 million years.

These are just a few of the 61 animals depicted. You might find: The Aye-Aye, the Hairless Chinese Crested Dog, The Blob Fish, The Purple Pig-Nosed Frog or the Naked Mole Rat just as interesting. 


A Curious Collection of Peculiar Creatures is a fascinating, entertaining and fun journey through the world of strange, exotic and captivating animals. It is packed full of interesting knowledge about the private lives of the most bizarre wildlife. A perfect excursion for children wanting to discover the fringe world of fantastic and unique critters.

In my opinion children would enjoy this publication. It is containing scientifically based information set in easy digestible chunks for young, hungry minds. I feel assured that A Curious Collection of Peculiar Creatures would stimulate and entertain but more importantly that it will encourage further research. When learning is fun children are driven to want to learn more and this is the true strength of Bayly’s scintillating work. It is simply a joy to the eye and the mind equally.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


I would like to thank Sami Bayly, NetGalley and The Experiment for affording me the opportunity to review A Curious Collection of Peculiar Creatures.


Q: What do sea monsters eat?

A: Fish and ships.