- Apex Predators: Top Killers of the Past and Present by Steve Jenkins
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-544-67160-7 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-328-80999-5 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 3-6
Jenkins works his way back through five hundred million years of natural history, spotlighting creatures who are currently, or were in their heyday, at the top of their respective food chains. He sets the tone with the terror bird, a ten-foot tall, fast-as-a-horse denizen of South American plains that is, fortunately, no longer with us, and offers a brief now-and-then comparison between a Siberian tiger and a [End Page 455] Tyrannosaurus rex. Then he traverses the retreating timeline from present day Komodo dragons and great white sharks, African wild dogs and electric eels, and back to the Daedon killer pig (departed eighteen million years ago), a forty-eight foot Titanoboa killer snake (extinct fifty-eight million years ago), the thirty-three-foot Dunkleosteus armor-plated fish (gone for over 375 million years now) and all the way to a man-sized shrimp-like Anomalocaris that threw in the towel 500 million years back. These successful hunters are captured in all their sanguinary glory in Jenkins’ signature cut-paper artwork, accompanied by brief remarks on habitat, prey, and miscellanea, as well as silhouettes comparing size relative to human beings. The title concludes with speculative land and water face-offs between creatures separated by time and place—Siberian tiger vs. Utahraptor, and Dunkleosteus vs. a great white shark. Use the bibliography, website list, and some imagination to set up your own beastly bouts.