The Unexpected Truth About Animals: A Menagerie of the Misunderstood by Lucy CookeLibrarian Note: Newer editions of this book have released with a different title: The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife. See ISBN 9780465094646
History is full of strange animal stories invented by the brightest and most influential, from Aristotle to Disney. But when it comes to understanding animals, we’ve got a long way to go.
Whether we’re watching a viral video of romping baby pandas or looking at a picture of penguins ‘holding hands’, we often project our own values – innocence, abstinence, hard work – onto animals. So you’ve probably never considered that moose get drunk and that penguins are notorious cheats.
In The Unexpected Truth About Animals Zoologist Lucy unravels many such myths – that eels are born from sand, that swallows hibernate under water, and that bears gave birth to formless lumps that are licked into shape by their mothers – to show that the stories we create reveal as much about us as they do about the animals.
Astonishing, illuminating and laugh-out-loud funny.
Lucy Cooke on: Pandas
S cientists have been misunderstanding animals for centuries. We viewthe animal kingdom through the prism of our own rather narrow existence. This has got to stop. It is driving many creatures into therapy. Bats are literally going bats. We need to open our minds — and let them tell their own stories. My reproductive organs are just configured differently.
Basic Books. Humans have long trapped animals in cages, nets and snares, but the tangled webs of vanity, curiosity, cruelty and fear we cast over other creatures may be even more perilous. We see our virtues and vices reflected in animals — hardworking beavers, indolent sloths, innocent lambs, greedy vultures — through a glass darkly. The penguin portion is not for the faint of heart. In 13 breezy chapters, each devoted to a misunderstood creature, Cooke collects some of our most crackpot notions and the equally startling truths about animals. She nimbly pings between arcane, medieval and modern sources, assembling a cast of characters that includes unhinged aristocrats, ill-fated adventurers, Thomas Jefferson, Julius Caesar, Sigmund Freud, the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe and more than a few mad scientists.
Lucy Cooke on: Chimpanzees
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Thank you! Thus, even in the recent past, well-meaning people could aver that eels spontaneously generate out of mud and hyenas change sexes at will, and we imagine today that animals lack consciousness or emotion. Through that narrow lens, yes, but the sloth moves at a speed that evolution has suggested is most appropriate to it. Does the beaver gnaw off its testicles and hurl them at would-be attackers, stunning them so that it can escape? The cognitive and biological toolboxes of the animal kingdom are overstuffed and full of surprises—e.