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Foreword

W e share our planet with a wonderful array of diverse and fascinating creatures. From the tiniest insect
to the mighty blue whale, animals have adapted to fill every niche in the ecosystem. There are so many
different types (species), that even after hundreds of years of scientific study people have still not managed to
catalog every species that exists. Even the most familiar animals have aspects of their behavior, lifestyle, or
biology that remain to be discovered. However, it is a sad fact that many species will vanish through habitat
loss, pollution, and human exploitation before their true value to biodiversity is known.

This comprehensive guide aims to introduce children to the exciting world of animals. All the major groups
are represented: mammals, birds, fishes, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Each section introduces the
reader to the main characteristics of the groups, families, and species that follow. Individual entries focus on
particularly interesting or common species, detailing their habitat, geographic location, relative size, lifespan,
and conservation status. Stunning photographs accompany the text, revealing the spectacular colors and
fabulous decorations displayed by many animals, as well as insights into their behavior in the wild. From
the biggest to the baddest and the beautiful to the bizarre, the wonders of the animal kingdom are revealed
here to amaze and inform young minds.

Dr. John P. Friel


Curator of Fishes, Amphibians, & Reptiles
Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates