How does a human compare in size to a grizzly bear, colossal squid, or blue whale? Which animals have the longest tongues and how do they compare to their body sizes? These are just some of the questions Steve Jenkins answers in Animals by the Numbers. Both simple and detailed illustrations of the animals are combined with graphs, symbols, and decision trees to bring a range of numbers and comparisons into an accessible form. Topics range from animal size and shape to populations to physical abilities such as running or jumping speed to body features and life spans. Depending on the reader’s geography, he or she may find it surprising to see which animals are the deadliest to humans. Although snake and dog bites may make the local news, it is disease-carrying mosquitoes that still present the biggest global challenge. Survival at extremes of altitude and temperature provides some surprising examples of robust animals, with the tardigrade, or “water bear,” being the true champ with its ability to survive in outer space. This isn’t just a book about animals; it is also about ways to present data and meaningful comparisons, and kudos to Jenkins for his skills in this area. Overall this isn’t a book to read but rather to browse. In each example, you are bound to learn something new.
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