An Exploration of Alan Dudley's Curious Collection

Book - 2012
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Grand Central Pub

Skulls is a beautiful spellbinding exploration of more than 300 different animal skulls­—amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles—written by New York Times bestselling author, Simon Winchester and produced in collaboration with Theodore Gray and Touch Press, the geniuses behind The Elements and Solar System.

In Skulls, best-selling author Simon Winchester (author of The Professor and the Madman; Atlantic: A Biography of the Ocean; Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded; and others)tells the rich and fascinating story of skulls, both human and animal, from every perspective imaginable: historical, biographical, cultural, and iconographic. Presenting details about the parts of the skull (including the cranium, the mandible, the shape and positioning of the eye sockets, and species-specific features like horns, teeth, beaks and bills), information about the science and pseudoscience of skulls, and a look at skulls in religion, art and popular culture, his stories and information are riveting and enlightening.

At the center of Skulls is a stunning, never-before-seen-in-any-capacity, visual array of the skulls of more than 300 animals that walk, swim, and fly. The skulls are from the collection of Alan Dudley, a British collector and owner of what is probably the largest and most complete private collection of skulls in the world. Every skull is beautifully photographed to show several angles and to give the reader the most intimate view possible. Each includes a short explanatory paragraph and a data box with information on the animal's taxonomy, behavior, and diet.

Skulls was published in December 2011 as an e-book for the iPad by the innovative e-book publishers Touch Press, creators of the best-selling e-books for iPad The Elements and Solar System. Both books were also published in print by Black Dog & Leventhal.

Baker & Taylor
Shares photographs of a variety of skulls, including those of mammals, birds, and fish.

Publisher: New York : Black Dog & Leventhal , c2012
ISBN: 9781579129125
Branch Call Number: 573.76 W721s
Characteristics: 253 p. : col. ill. ; 27 cm
Additional Contributors: Mann, Nick


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Jan 29, 2018

I found this to be a fascinating book; there is relatively little writing in it, but the text portions are informative and enjoyable. The images are of various sizes and each specimen has its own paragraph. I should wish to look into again.

Feb 17, 2016

Lovers of skull and of detail, rejoice. You will love this beautifully photographed book.

I would have liked more details to read, especially when it came to birds and reptiles. But still a great book and an awesome collection.

Jun 01, 2013

Another Dickensian masterpice by Simon Winchester....

abkeller Feb 23, 2013

In our bodies, the framework for muscles, tendons and ligaments is the skeleton, topped by a skull, a face as unique as each creature itself. Whether it be a reptile, primate, eel, catfish, frog, newt or penguin, the skull houses the central processing unit, the brain. This powers each animal, bird or snake. Teeth highlight the jaw and in some, a prominent brow ridge or horns crown the whole in magnificent glory.
Alan Dudley was fascinated by skulls. At an early age, he found the body of a dead fox and brought it home to inspect it in greater detail. However, prepping the skull for collection proved to be a bit of a trial. Maggots, which feasted on the flesh of the carcass, were often a little overzealous, leading to damage of fine bone. The alternative was to soak each skull in water for a very, very long period of time, allowing the natural bacteria to run their course. This avenue proved to be extremely smelly, but very effective and at last, Dudley’s collection began to grow in earnest.
Unfortunately, Dudley’s zeal for collecting led him to obtain the skulls of a few endangered species, which ultimately progressed to his arrest. Nevertheless, Dudley’s collection remains one of the most detailed accounts of fauna on the planet.
Kudos to Nick Mann’s numerous photographs, too. These illustrate with brilliant clarity the extensive variations in each skull, often from multiple angles. This book is essential for zoologists and students of biology. It is also a stunning, unique gift and a perfect accent for your coffee table.


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