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Animal curiosities in a book on ignorance


Animal curiosities to feed the animal curiosity that is in each of us. There is indigestion to do in this sparkling and original book by John Mitchinson and John Lloyd: "The book of ignorance on animals" (Einaudi).

It is a real one compendium of animal curiosities, accompanied by the drawings and cartoons of the American illustrator Ted Dewan who, curious and irreverent as much as the writer of the text, made the content of the book even more original, if it were ever possible.
Animal curiosities about sex, and it turns out that the porcupine is the only rodent to do so even when it is not possible to conceive. Or that flea intercourse lasts three hours. Or that male penguins pay females in stones in exchange for sexual favors, for example.


Animal curiosities on the family which in the hyenas is of the matriarchal type as well as in the gibbons while the owners of real harems are the sea elephants. As for fidelity, albatrosses are an example for all: Lloyd and Mitchinson swear that when he chooses a mate it is for life.
Animal curiosities on nutrition and sleep habits, animal curiositieson diseases or on the particular appearance assumed in case of danger. All with the utmost clarity and above all the utmost respect for scientific rigor.

While taking a cue from medieval bestiaries, in fact, the two authors smile as they reread them but for their own animal curiosities they choose to leave aside the imagination and popular beliefs, devoting themselves to the pure cult of zoology. Then, if they are good enough to make it fun and engaging with the many weird animal curiosities, it's all thanks to them. And a little bit of this too animal world that surpasses any fantasy. It is enough to read that the oniscus of the cellars drinks from the bottom, the scorpions are phosphorescent in the dark and the snakes to ward off strangers even simulate bouts of vomiting and fainting. And then it is also an irreverent book, this summa of animal curiosities written by 4 hands and translated by the good Alessandra Montrucchio. In fact he is not ashamed to disprove clichés by now well established, claiming that bats - other than dirty - wash for an hour every day, and that geese are not stupid, they are intelligent and sensitive and empathetic, so much so that if one of them dies, the companion stops eating and squawking in pain for months and months of mourning.
One of the two authors, Lloyd, and perhaps this partly explains the originality and liveliness of the book, is an author and producer for radio and TV and among his programs also QI, which stands for IQ but also for "Quite Interesting". Exactly.

John Lloyd's book of ignorance on animals (Author), John Mitchinson (Author), A. Montrucchio (Translator)

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Video: Seeing the Invisible. Op-Docs. The New York Times (October 2020).