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But What Is It Really?

Matthew Birmingham

From wrens that aren’t wrens to perches called cods –
A rambling taxonomic guide to Australian wildlife’s most misleading names and confusing terms

Have you ever wondered whether that bird on the fence is properly called a pigeon or a dove, or whether that shelled reptile in your local pond is a turtle or a tortoise? Have you wondered what it means to say that Australia’s iconic King Brown Snake, clearly a snake and clearly brown, is not a brownsnake?

Perhaps you have made the understandable mistake of thinking that a shrike-thrush is a kind of thrush, or a mealworm a type of worm, or maybe you are left confused when two different books give two different scientific names for what is apparently the same animal.

Perhaps you are simply confounded by the system of kingdoms, orders, genera, etc. with which biologists organise the living world. Some of the names and terms attached to the living world seem almost designed to confuse the uninitiated, but here is a book that can help.

Beginning with a layman’s introduction to the ins and outs of biological classification and nomenclature, the book then takes the reader through a survey of all the animal groups found in Australia, including those found in our marine waters and those introduced by man, always revolving around the theme of explaining confusing names but also paying sharp attention to taxonomy and finding room for much general information and some fascinating asides.

Features include a number of phylogenetic trees that help to illustrate the evolutionary relationships between animals, a complete list of every class, order and family of vertebrates in the world according to current classifications, an expansive glossary, extensive cross-referencing, and a comprehensive index serving primarily as a guide to the correct spelling of difficult search-words.

Whether you are zoologically clueless or well-informed, you are sure to find interest and clarification in this unique book.

About the Author

Matthew Birmingham has had a life-long interest in the creatures that share our world. Beginning as one of those kids always looking under rocks and logs for bugs and lizards, or climbing trees to look in birds’ nests, he went on to develop a deeper scientific interest in wildlife and biology, especially taxonomy and evolutionary biology. Schooled predominantly through a growing library of natural history books and his own observations, he learned much and at the same time developed an increasingly finely-tuned ear for the wildlife-related mistakes so often voiced by the public. This highlighted the need to gather the issues that tend to trip people up and to clarify them in accessible form, leading to the writing of ‘But What is it Really?’, Matthew’s first published book. Matthew lives in country Victoria and still likes birdwatching and looking under logs for bugs, lizards and other critters.



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ISBN: 978-1-925846-93-5 (ebook edition)
Format: eBook (epub + mobi)
Extent: 1,276 pages
RRP: USD $9.99
Publisher: Vivid Publishing
Category: Life Sciences /  Australian Wildlife.