Kids' Animal Station

For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals

“What On Earth” Book Review and 5 Cool Animals From It

When I saw this book at the Barnes and Nobles, I was immediately drawn to it, because of the freaky animal on the cover. (There’s a picture of the cover below.) You all probably know how much I love animals, and I found this book very interesting. It’s called What On Earth, by Quentin Wheeler and Sara Pennak. Just from reading the description, you can tell there was team of scientists and a whole heart behind the writing. That spirit prevails throughout the book. Now, what is the book about, you ask? Well, it’s about 100 species that have been recently discovered on Earth, and there’s a little blurb about each one. I thought I’d go through 5 of my favorite animal species featured in the book. Most of the facts in this blog post are from the book, so, go buy it to learn about even more amazing animals!


Book Cover Picture from Amazon



Picture of Long Neck Assassin Spider by Nikolaj Scharff

  1. Long Neck Assassin Spider

Assassin Spiders, a subtype of spiders called the Archaeidae, is characterized by elongated “necks” that help them snatch prey with their jaws and kill it by injecting them with venom as they squirm helplessly within their clutches. They have been named “the World’s Goofiest-Looking Spider” in an article by Wired, and it’s not hard to see why. There was recently a new discovery of a species of Assassin Spiders, called the Long Neck Assassin Spider, or the Eriauchenius lavatenda, discovered in 2008 in Madagascar. They measure in at less than an inch, being only millimeters across. It’s easy to see why this one caught my eye–just look at it; the amber-reddish color and not-fitting of each limb makes it looks like roadkill mixed with an alien.


2. Heckford’s Midget Moth

I picked this one less because of the moth itself, but because of a little detail at the end of page 63 in “What on Earth” that happened to catch my eye. It says “Ectoedemia Heckfordi is also an important reminder that the public plays a vital role in species exploration and discovery.” It says this because it was discovered by an novice naturalist. I found this exciting, because, as you may know from my last blog post, I just discovered bug collecting (by the way, I caught a cool praying mantis recently). It’s so exciting to think that, one day, I could discover a new bug species. But, even better, then I’d get to name it something awesome, like my name. Oh yeah, and I guess I’d contribute to science. That too. Anyway, Heckford’s Midget Moth is special because it is part of the insect family Nepticulidae, which is about all the smallest lepidoptera (butterflies and moths).



Photo from Wikipedia

3. Sierra Madre Monitor Lizard

This one caught my eye because of this sentence in the book: “Despite years of rumors and the occasional photograph that would come to the attention of biologists, this…monitor lizard….has only been recently described by scientists, although it’s been known to the local Philippine tribespeople from centuries.” It sound to me that we have a discovered cryptid on our hands.  For my blog post on cryptids, and what they are, go here. It’s actually really cool that it was known to the tribespeople before the scientists, and how it was almost a fable. Anyway, Varanus Bitatawa, which is the scientific name, grows up to 6.6 feet, and is hard to capture, due to the fact that it’s rather skittish and shy.


Picture from “What on Earth” book

4. Idip’s Starfish

Wow, Patrick Star really let himself go, huh? Must have been all those krabby patties. All jokes aside, the Idip’s Starfish was discovered in Palau during a Twilight Zone expedition. It was found in 1997, but not described until 2003 (I wasn’t even born yet!). It can be five inches thick in width, and is dark red with a nice ivory-white color on the back. According to the book, it doesn’t have most of it’s skeletal structure, lost during evolution.


5. Levant Octopus

This one is a species that isn’t alive today–it comes from the discovered fossils section part of the book. This time, we’re dealing with another cryptid. It’s odd how the history can sometimes be more interesting than the animal. It lived from the Cretaceous to the Jurassic period, which was 95 to 180 million years ago. In the book they imply that ancient people from the Middle East may have had an ancient legend of a monster called Yam that really looks like what the Levant Octopus is theorized to have looked like. It’s curious, since human beings weren’t around during the Jurassic period. Either way, still very interesting.



Wise Words

"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if a person or animal is at stake."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."
— Translation of African Proverb

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