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Walker's Mammals of the World (2-Volume Set)

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9780801857898: Walker's Mammals of the World (2-Volume Set)
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From aardwolves and bandicoots to yapoks and zorillas, Ernest P. Walker's Mammals of the World is the most comprehensive―the pre-eminent―reference work on mammals. Now, completely revised and updated, this fascinating guide is better than ever. Providing a complete account of every genus of mammal in all historical time, the sixth edition is 25 percent longer than its predecessor. Of the previous generic accounts, 95 percent have been substantively modified, and there are 80 new ones―among them, three remarkable, large ungulates recently discovered in the forests of Indochina. New also is a full account of the woolly mammoth, now known to have survived until less than 4,000 years ago.

Each section of the book describes one genus and includes facts such as scientific and common names, the number and distribution of species, measurements and physical traits, habitat, locomotion, daily and seasonal activity, population dynamics, home range, social life, reproduction, and longevity. Textual summaries present accurate, well-documented descriptions of the physical characteristics and living habits of mammals in every part of the world. As in the last two editions, the names and distributions of every species of every genus are listed in systematic order. These lists have now been cross-checked to ensure coverage of all species in the comprehensive new Smithsonian guide, Mammal Species of the World. Facts on the biology of mammals have been brought together from more than 2,700 newly cited references, nearly all published in the last decade. Also new are the latest data on reproduction, longevity, fur harvests, numbers in the wild and in captivity, and conservation status. The sixth edition also records all official classifications of every mammal species and subspecies in the massive 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals.

The illustrations―more than 1,700―include virtually every genus of mammal. Among them are pictures by such noted wildlife photographers as Leonard Lee Rue III, Bernhard Grzimek, David Pye, and Warren T. Houck. Mammals pictured here for the first time include the just-discovered giant muntjac deer of Viet Nam, a rodent known only from the Solomon Islands, a large fruit bat whose male suckles the young, and an extremely rare web-footed tenrec of Madagascar.

Since its publication in 1964, Walker's Mammals of the World has become a favorite guide to the natural world for general readers as well as an invaluable resource for professionals. This sixth edition represents more than half a century of scholarship―Ernest P. Walker himself devoted more than thirty years to the original project―and remains true to Walker's vision, smoothly combining thorough scholarship with a popular, readable style to preserve and enhance what the Washington Post called "a landmark of zoological literature."

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Review:
In 1930, the great mammalogist Ernest P. Walker (1891-1969), who was then assistant director of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., set out to make a checklist of all the world's mammal species. Thirty-four years later, that simple catalog had grown into the huge first edition of Mammals of the World, a book dedicated to all mammals, "who contribute so much to the welfare and happiness of man, another mammal, but receive so little in return, except blame, abuse, and extermination."

Now in its sixth edition and compiled in two volumes, the even larger Mammals of the World contains thorough descriptions of every genus of the class Mammalia known to have lived in the last 5,000 years: 28 orders, 146 families, 1,192 genera, and 4,809 separate species. Volume 1 opens with the monotremes (including echidnas and the duck-billed platypus), which, write Walker and his successor Ronald Nowak, "resemble reptiles and differ from all other mammals in that they lay shell-covered eggs that are incubated and hatched outside of the body of the mother." The first volume then moves on to cover the insectivores, including an astonishing variety of bats, and closes with primates and carnivores. Volume 2 comprises the pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), moves through the cetacea (dolphins, porpoises, and whales) and artiodactyls (deer and their kin), and closes with a huge roster of rodents. It also contains an extensive bibliography numbering some 6,000 items, making the set of inestimable importance to students and professionals.

Many of those mammal species, Nowak writes, are now in jeopardy. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists 2,078 threatened species, an increase of 1,661 species over its first list, published in 1987. At the same time, Nowak adds, the U.S. Department of Interior list has grown by only 17 species, for, he continues, "The USDI classification process has become hopelessly subject to delay and manipulation by bureaucratic, political, and commercial interests." He argues that much greater effort needs to be given to protecting these animal citizens everywhere in the world. The knowledge of them that this extraordinary compilation affords is a start. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Ernest P. Walker (1891-1969) began work on Mammals of the World in the early 1930s, when he became assistant director of the National Zoo in Washington. His work reflected an unequaled store of knowledge about the world's mammals. Ronald M. Nowak was senior author of the fourth edition and author of the fifth edition of Walker's Mammals of the World. His other works on mammalogy include North American Quaternary Canis and several parts of the National Geographic Society's Wild Animals of North America, for which he also was editorial consultant. He received a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Kansas in 1973 and was staff mammalogist at the former Office of Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, from 1974 to 1987. He served as an Air Force officer for four years and is a private pilot.

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