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Monsters and Legends is part of the fabulous debut lineup of titles from Flying Eye, a kids' imprint spun out of London's NoBrow (they're the publishers of recently reviewed books like Welcome to Your Awesome Robot and Akissi). The book, written by Davide Cali and illustrated by Garbiella Giandelli, is a fascinating reference work for kids 7 and up about the curious origins of the monsters of the popular imagination. The book recounts the odd history of stories of mermaids, chupacabras, cyclopses, dragons, the Loch Ness Monster, and other cryptozoology favorites. It's a great balance between fascination with monsters and lore and a skeptical inquiry into how widespread beliefs can be overturned by evidence and rational inquiry -- a real "magic of reality" book.
The illustrations in this book represent a range of engaging styles, and they bring it to life for even younger readers. My five year old and I spent several bedtimes on this, flipping through the pages, and stopping when a picture caught her eye. I had to interpret the text for her -- the language was often over her head -- but the stories absolutely grabbed her and it's become a family favorite.
As with other Flying Eye titles, this one is out in the UK right now and coming to the US on June 11 (here's a pre-order link). As a one-time monster kid who's doing his best to raise another one, this one gets my unreserved stamp of approval.
MONSTERS AND LEGENDS [Flying Eye]
Monsters and Legends [Amazon UK]
Baxter worked as a butler for an eccentric oil baron in 1898. His father was a Krampus who emigrated from Bavaria in the 1860's and married a school teacher from Piscataway, New Jersey. Baxter grew up to be erudite and purposeful. he had a fascination with the wonders of the world particularly insects. During the warmer months on his days off he would wander through the town marveling at nature.
It's true! Science proves it!
And it's more than just an effect of infrared imaging. If you duck over to Joseph Stromberg's post at the Surprising Science blog, you'll see a photo of a real, live reindeer with an adorably red nose (and upper lip).
Turns out, it's the result of an evolutionary adaptation. Some (but not all) reindeer have noses full of densely packed blood vessels — a difference that makes those reindeer better at regulating their own body temperatures.
To come to the findings, the scientists examined the noses of two reindeer and five human volunteers with a hand-held video microscope that allowed them to see individual blood vessels and the flow of blood in real time. They discovered that the reindeer had a 25% higher concentration of blood vessels in their noses, on average.
They also put the reindeer on a treadmill and used infrared imaging to measure what parts of their bodies shed the most heat after exercise. The nose, along with the hind legs, reached temperatures as high as 75°F—relatively hot for a reindeer—indicating that one of the main functions of all this blood flow is to help regulate temperature, bringing large volumes of blood close to the surface when the animals are overheated, so its heat can radiate out into the air.
Also: red-nosed reindeer on treadmills, you guys. This is clearly the most adorable science of the holiday season.
Via Bart King
These delightful Bigfoot and Yeti glass ornaments are available from the International Cryptozoology Museum. They're $20 each and support the fantastically Fortean museum located in Portland, Maine. International Cryptozoology Museum Holiday Gift Guide
UPDATE: The ornaments are nearly sold out so perhaps consider gifting a Bigfoot or Yeti footprint cast to your favorite cryptozoologist?
They Might Be Giants have released a holiday bundle with lots of cool junk, but the best of the lot is this $15 cryptozoology playing-card deck.
Jose Maldonado, a 22-year-old bricklayer in Guadalajara, found a live fairy.
“I was picking guavas and I saw a twinkling. I thought it was a firefly. I picked it up and felt that it was moving; when I looked at it I knew that it was a fairy godmother,” Maldonado said.
Sadly, it died, but he pickled it in formaldehyde and allows the curious to take a peek for a fee.
UPDATE: Looky here. (Thanks, Thoma!)