Book Review: Carnivores of the World (2nd edition)
Here’s the latest in the Princeton Field Guide series based around groups of mammals of the world.
Luke Hunter’s book covers 250 species of carnivores from the Polar Bear through to the Least Weasel. There is 1/4 to 1/2 a page of text on each species to accompany beautiful illustrations on 93 color plates from Priscilla Bartlett covering every species and many sub species.
If, like me, you had the first edition from 2011 then you are going to want to know what has changed. Well, this fully revised – larger format – version includes coverage of 9 “new” species like the African Wolf as well as information on Coyote/Wolf “hybrids”. That said, without doing a full comparison I suspect the book is a little more taxonomically conservative than the 2018 Canids of the World, also from Princeton. Only one species of Raccoon Dog is included for example, though the author gives a nod towards the possibility of a second species. The second edition also includes the latest data on population trends and conservation status.
Although the book could be useful for identification from time to time, especially to see the latest thinking on taxonomy, I cannot imagine it is something you would need to use as a field guide often; most of these species are well covered in national or regional field guides and elsewhere. But it is a lovely book to browse through and – dare I say it – to tick off the species you have seen. What a nice gift for that special mammalwatcher in your life! Trying to see all of the planet’s carnivores is a pretty good goal I reckon. And if anyone feels like trying then now is likely the the best – and sadly the last – time in history to try. Amazon Weasel sightings? Anyone? Anyone?
Available for $29.95 at Princeton University Press and many other places.