Book Review – Elephant Reflections

Elephant ReflectionsElephant Reflections, a beautiful book released by the University of California Press this past May, features gorgeous photography that transcends conventional nature photography. Providing a window into the intimate lives of elephants, the photos would be at home in an art gallery.

Captured by Karl Ammann, the photographs are categorized into themes such as “Colors,” “Textures,” and “Portraits.” The images beg to be scoured over, luring the reader to examine every detail.

The photos are accompanied by an eloquently-written text by Dale Peterson. Peterson’s text informs the reader about many of the captivating behaviors and societal norms of elephants. For example, elephants are thought to use infrasound for long-distance communication. The sounds are too low for humans to hear, but elephants can sense the vibrations from miles away using their large ears and the soles of their feet.

Children will be drawn to the large format photos, while parents and teachers will find the text enhances their appreciation of the images.

Purchase Elephant Reflections at Amazon.com.

You can also learn about elephants here at Animal Fact Guide. Check out our article: African Elephant.

Book Review – In the Womb: Animals

In the Womb: Animals (cover)National Geographic has recently released a very interesting book for animal lovers. In the Womb: Animals by Michael Sims, explores the fascinating development from conception to birth of a golden retriever, a bottlenose dolphin, and an Asian elephant.

Beautifully illustrated with ultrasound images of these animals as embryos and fetuses, the book highlights the development of unique physical characteristics that the animals will come to rely on once out of womb.

For example, one section showcases the elephant fetus after four months. At this point, the trunk is recognizable, but it will need the full 18 more months in the womb to continue developing. Once out of the womb, the elephant will use this strong, highly dexterous snout to pick foliage, carry objects, suck water, and use as a snorkel while swimming.

The author also touches upon physical characteristics that provide clues about the animals’ ancestry.  For example, at 3-4 weeks, the dolphin fetus develops hind limbs which later retract and disappear. This suggests that dolphins may have evolved from four-legged land animals.

Intertwined with the three main stories are captivating glimpses into the development and behavior of red kangaroos, emperor penguins, sand tiger and lemon sharks, and parasitic wasps. These mini stories reveal the extraordinary journeys these animals make before they’re even born, as well as provide interesting points of comparison to the three main characters.

It is a fascinating read for animal lovers, but parents should note that reproductive behavior is covered in detail.

Dog fetus from In the Womb: Animals

Dolphin fetus from In the Womb: Animals

Elephant fetus from In the Womb: Animals

The book, In the Womb: Animals, is available at Amazon.com.

You may also be interested in purchasing the documentary DVD, In the Womb: Animals.