Inside Animals

Inside Animals
Barbara Taylor and Margaux Carpentier
Wide Eyed Editions

Back in the day when I was studying zoology at A-level and beyond I always felt extremely uncomfortable having to do animal dissections to get a close look at an animal’s innards. Now here’s a book containing twenty one cross-sections of a variety of animals large and small, all illustrated in vibrant colours by Margaux Carpentier. 

In the introductory section, detailed pictures show how skeleton, muscles, organs and nerves fit together inside the featured creature – a snake, a camel and a shark.

Then come several focus topics – Muscles and Moving, Skeletons, Lungs and Breathing, Brain and Senses, Heart and Blood, and Amazing Organs.

Written by one time Science Editor at London’s Natural History Museum, Barbara Taylor and set out around each internal view, are factual paragraphs and an introduction, for all the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, spiders and other invertebrates spotlighted herein.

I was fascinated to see the honey stomach of the honeybee – a storage organ for nectar – shown and mentioned in one of the paragraphs and part of what helps this creature survive and thrive.

No animal would be able to survive without oxygen to breathe but not all have lungs, or gills like fish and oysters. Within a parrot we see both lungs and additional air sacs that keep oxygen-supplying air flowing throughout its body so the energy for flight is available. 

Other creatures including we read, land-living earthworms, breathe through their skin.

What about brains? It’s not every animal that has one of those although all rely on sensory information sent via electrical signals along nerves. Such information might be gathered through an animal’s sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Without a brain, jellyfish for instance use a simple nerve network to detect touch, light, smells and to respond to their surroundings; amazingly these graceful creatures can still sting after they’re dead.

Turning to animals having more in common with humans, a giraffe for instance possesses lungs (around eight times the size of ours), and a heart – also enormous and roughly the weight of your average two year old. I was surprised to learn that despite its very long neck, a giraffe has only seven neck bones, linked we read by ball-and-socket joints enabling that neck to be super-bendy.

I suspect that any youngster, especially those with a scientific bent, will discover some surprises in this engrossing book. It’s one I’d recommend adding to family bookshelves and KS2 classroom collections.

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