Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia is an internationally prominent scientific reference compilation, first published in German in the late 1960s, under the editorship of zoologist Bernhard Grzimek (1909–1987). In a cooperative effort between Gale and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the series has been completely revised and updated for the first time in over 30 years.
The overall structure of this reference work is based on the classification of animals into naturally related groups, a discipline known as taxonomy—the science in which various organisms are discovered, identified, described, named, classified, and catalogued. Starting with the simplest life forms, the lower metazoans and lesser deuterostomes, in volume 1, the series progresses through the more complex classes of animals, culminating with the mammals in volumes 12–16. Volume 17 is a stand-alone cumulative index.
Organization of chapters within each volume reinforces the taxonomic hierarchy. In the case of the volume on Lower Metazoans and Lesser Deuterostomes, introductory chapters describe general characteristics of all organisms in these groups, followed by taxonomic chapters dedicated to Phylum or Class. Species accounts appear at the end of the taxonomic chapters.
Grzimek's features approximately 3,000 color photos, including nearly 110 in the Lower Metazoans and Lesser Deuterostomes volume; 3,500 total color maps, including approximately 130 in the Lower Metazoans and Lesser Deuterostomes volume; and approximately 5,500 total color illustrations, including approximately 350 in the Lower Metazoans and Lesser Deuterostomes volume. Each featured species of animal is accompanied by both a distribution map and an illustration.
While the encyclopedia attempts to minimize scientific jargon, readers will encounter numerous technical terms related to anatomy and physiology throughout the volume. To assist readers in placing physiological terms in their proper context, we have created a number of detailed anatomical drawings that are found within the particular taxonomic chapters to which they relate. Readers are urged to make heavy use of these drawings. In addition, many anatomical terms are defined in the Glossary at the back of the book.
September 13, 2010