Review: All the Mammals of the World

Woohoo! I just received my copy of All the Mammals of the World, the latest offering from Lynx Nature Books.

This is – in essence – a one volume and updated summary of the Handbooks of the Mammals of the World series but aimed at a broader audience, including those who cannot afford all nine volumes of the Handbook.

All the Mammals of the World includes information about 6,581 mammals species including 19 domestic and 103 extinct species. Each species is illustrated alongside distribution maps, measurement and weight data. I can already see if it going to be an extremely useful tool for identifying tricky species, and in particular small mammals. When I got home from Chad a few months ago I spent many frantic hours flicking backwards and forwards through dozens of pages of the handbook volume covering the gerbils, trying to connect the distribution and measurement information with the species illustrations on different pages. Had I had this book I could have skimmed quickly through the possible species and far more easily made a list of likely suspects based on range and measurements. That alone is a big step forward in my opinion!

This is too big for most field trips but the layout also means it is now much easier to photograph the pages on your phone that you might want to refer too (this was also complicated using the handbook as none of the plates are labelled with species names).

The book includes information on endemics by country (Indonesia wins with Australia second) as well as a very useful chapter on changes in taxonomy. Some of you will be pleased to see the handbook is largely now following the taxonomy of the Mammal Diversity Database, which my own checklist is also based on. So I am very happy to see this move towards great consistency.  For instance, the Handbook’s controversial 11 species of Klipspringer have returned to just one.

But obviously the most important feature is that you can now  sit down with friends and family and flick through just one book while boring them senseless with comments like “I’ve seen that one, seen that one. Ooh that is one I want to see. I’ve not seen that one but I know where to see it”…. etc etc. Or is that just me?  Probably it is just me. Sorry kids.

Available from Lynx Nature Books here and they ship worldwide. I see there is even a tee shirt! Quite right.


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Jon Hall


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