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A READER'S JOURNAL, Volume 1

Dolphin Conferences, Elephant Midwives, and other Astonishing Facts about Animals
by
Warren D. Thomas and Daniel Kaufman

Published by J.T. Tarcher in 1990
Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002

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The title of this book attracted my attention because of the review I had written recently on dolphin communication (See Lilly on Dolphins). The entire title article was only a small paragraph that stressed that dolphins politely take turns speaking during a conference.

The format of the entire book is similar: small paragraph length blurbs packed with facts about the oddities of the animal kingdom. The authors include amazing facts worthy of "Believe Or Not!" on almost every page. For example, the female turtle eats voraciously when ready to mate. She finishes eating and pulls in her head, which causes her vagina to pop out of her shell, ready for action. The baby spiders spin out a thread in the wind to fly to a distant location. The tiny male eel lives its life inside the vagina of the larger female of the species. The frog incubates its young in its stomach. The penguins incubate their eggs in the sub-zero frozen Antarctic ice pack by holding their eggs on the top of their feet and huddling together by the thousands against the cold winds.

The cowbirds learned to use the nests of other birds because their source of food, the buffalo herds, was always on the move to new foraging grounds. Now they feed on sedentary cattle, but the cowbirds continue to use other birds' nests for their young.

The net-casting spider drops a newly spun net on its prey. The chameleon shoots out a 6-inch tongue and retrieves a fly into its mouth faster than a human eye can see. The slime eel enters its fish prey from the mouth or anus, eats out the inside of the fish and leaves. A deep-sea fish produces fireworks displays to scare off predators. The midwife toad carries a long rope of eggs around his waist during incubation. The baby whale weighs 17,000 pounds when born. The elephant midwives flip the amniotic onto the ground sheath during the birth process so that the newborn elephant will have a sterile place to stand on in its first moments out of the womb.

In this delightful potpourri, the reader will find new facts about the diverse life on this robust planet filling every page and every minute of reading.



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