Henricus Peters reviews Funny bums, freaky beaks and other incredible creature features by Alex Morss & Sean Taylor, illustrated by Sarah Edmunds.

Have you ever looked at an animal and wondered if someone had played some practical joke with it – it looks so strange! Certainly, the first ever account of the duck-billed platypus suggested that someone had stuck bits of other creatures together to create such an odd-looking animal. 

Did you know…. that manatees can move around underwater by farting?

Did you know… the Texas horned lizard cannot run fast, but shoots blood out of its eyes as an offensive against potential predators?

Did you know…. the tiger tail seahorse has a tail with four flat sides which helps it to reduce injury?

In this great book, Morss and Taylor, with wonderful illustrations by Sara Edmonds, have brought together a range of animals, which appear on the face of it, somehow strange or do things for very specific defence reasons, with either humorous – or deadly (for the other animal) – results.

Chapters include: ‘Strange Tails’ – the likes of the scorpion, lemur, rattlesnake, ‘Puzzling Toes’ – including the gecko, blue-footed booby, sloth and penguins; ‘Odd Noses’, including sawfish, elephant, proboscis monkey; ‘Funny Bums’, including the mandarin baboon, manatee, turtle sea cucumber; ‘Freaky Beaks’ – the famous duck-billed platypus of Australia, hummingbird, parrotfish, toucan; ‘Extraordinary Eyes’ looks at the tarsier, jumping spider, scallop, butterflies, owl; ‘Perplexing Necks’ – the eastern long-necked turtle, frilled lizard, the giraffe, the giraffe weevil; ‘Weird Ears’ includes the spotted bat, the elephant again, blue whale, red squirrel; ‘Terrific Teeth’ shows us the beaver, the hippo, shark, and squid.

With so much media talk of biodiversity, it’s nice to view the incredible diversity of life of Earth – as the reader can explore the unique features employed by animals to not just stay alive, but also thrive. This delightful volume takes us on a fresh journey of discovery to see the what and the why of animals and their quirky looks and behavioural adaptations.    
Highly recommended as a great introduction to the more unusual aspects of the animal kingdom. 

Morss, A. & Taylor, S., illustrated by Sarah Edmonds. (2022). Funny Bums, Freaky Beaks and other incredible creature features. Welbeck (pub). ISBN: 9781803380056. Paperback, 48 pages. 

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