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black whiteDr John Feltwell

Red Door


Exploring an intriguing topic, John Feltwell has brought together examples of animals that illustrate the theme of black and white. As the author states, there is little overt science in this book and few answers to explain the adaptive significance of the animals' patterns. The examples chosen display a general lack of colour in their markings rather than being discretely black and white. He describes the zebra's stripes and proposes several theories, although these lack any real evidence and there is no overall conclusion as to the benefits of such markings.

He explores the occurrence of albinism and here, at least, offers some science to explain athe phenomenon, although the examples used are essentially a catalogue of curiosities.
Separate chapters provide brief descriptions of the benefits achieved by differing patterns of black and white grouped into categories such as camouflage, warnings and signals, black, white, disruptive colouration and more. In each, the author describes the occurrence of animals that fit the chapter theme.

The book is well illustrated with colour images. Clearly never meant to be a scientific exploration of the subject, it will appeal to the interested nature lover and those wishing to know a little more about what is a potentially fascinating topic.

Dr Alan Woollhead