When you’re part of a team that loves nothing more than throwing itself headfirst into celebrating the charming and the curious, you find yourself learning all sorts of weird and wonderful things.
One thing I really love learning from our books is the number of weird and wonderful animals that are out there.
For every year that you can make one of our books – from 1913 to 2017 – there’s a page all about an animal that was discovered that year.
To give you a little glimpse into the menagerie that lives between the covers of our books I’ve picked out a few of my favourites here.
The Zog-Zog Titi Monkey (1998)
For a lot of people, 1998 will remind them of seeing the film “Titanic” as many times as possible. Not so for Dr Marc von Roosmalen.
He was busy working in the jungles of Brazil: probably the only place on the planet at the time where “My Heart Will Go On” couldn’t be heard night and day. The Dutch-born Brazilian primatologist was conducting research near the banks of the Rio Madeira when he discovered the fantastically named, Zog-Zog Titi Monkey.
These grey brown little guys are characterised by the reddish tint of their stomachs and beards, and their white-tipped tails. They take their name from the local people’s description of the distinctive call the monkeys make when they think their space is being invaded.
The Cinnamon Screech-Owl (1986)
The Cinnamon Screech-Owl sounds like the name of an obscure ‘80s new wave band. But it’s actually the name of a type of small screech-owl first discovered in Peru in 1986.
These owls are from the megascops genus, which is only found in the Americas. They’re smaller and more agile than other owls. They have brown plumage, dark brown eyes, and the Spock-like ear tufts that are typical of their genus.
As you might expect for an animal with “screech” in its name, these winged chaps are noisy. Their primary song is a series of flat hoots. But, if they get annoyed, their hooting speeds up before suddenly shifting to a slower paced but higher pitched screech.
The Fierce Snake (1975)
Absolutely no false advertising here*. Fierce snakes are exactly that. Also known as the Inland Taipan, these fearsome serpents live in the semi-arid regions of central east Australia and are not to be messed with.
If threatened, they bite with the most toxic venom of any snake in the world. A bite’s worth of venom is capable of killing at least (AT LEAST!) 100 grown men. And, unlike most snakes who only attack with a single bite, Fierce Snakes attack with up to eight bites. That’s a whole lot of venom.
*On the subject of false advertising, while the Fierce Snake wasn’t officially recognised until 1975, it was first described by Western zoologist Frederick McCoy in 1879. And prior to that, Aboriginal Australians had been aware of them for 40,000-60,000 years.
The Dibbler (1967)
The Dibbler sounds like a phrase you use when you can’t think of the actual word for something. “Has anyone seen the what’s-his-name, you know, the thingmy… the dibbler?”
That idea of something being missing is sadly appropriate when it comes to the Dibbler. These sweet looking marsupials are an endangered species. Even if they weren’t endangered they’d be hard to spot. Measuring up to just 16cm long (not including their tails) the Dibbler is a nocturnal hunter who disguises itself with speckled fur.
Dibblers are tough little critters though. In the early 19th century, they were found across the state of Western Australia, but by 1884, they were declared extinct. They were considered gone for good before being rediscovered in southwestern Western Australia in 1967. Perth Zoo currently leads efforts to keep the Dibbler from going missing again.
And so many more…
So there’s a sample of the interesting creatures I’ve come across in our books. We didn’t even have time to talk about the Black-Throated Robin (discovered in 1920) or the Eulophophyllum Kirki (discovered just last year 2017). And what about – and I promise you this is a real thing – Darlington’s Mandang Tree Frog (discovered in 1945).
If you want to find out all about the animal that was discovered the year you were born, take a look at our books here, it’s free to try.