The conception of All the Mammals of the World (AMW) parallels that of its avian-focused cousin, All the Birds of the World (ABW). AMW is the endpoint of a series that started with the nine-volume Handbook of Mammals of the World (HMW), then the publication of the two-volume Illustrated Checklist of Mammals of the World, finally concluding with the production of this work, which covers all known species of mammal in a single volume. In dimensions, it’s similar to ABW, being just a tad slimmer, and the layout inside will be familiar to those who own ABW, too.
As in ABW, text is kept to a minimum. There’s a short, ten-page introduction (of which two pages are a taxonomic list of orders and families and one page is simply references) – and then it’s straight to business with the species accounts. The fewer species of mammals compared to birds (6,581 vs. 11,524) and the lack of obvious sexual dimorphism in many species (e.g. the rodents and bats, which between them account for about half of the species accounts) has allowed for a little more breathing space between the species plates in AMW compared to ABW. Each set of species illustrations is accompanied by the English, French, German, Spanish and scientific names; the species’ IUCN conservation status; the number of subspecies found globally; and, where data are available, the size and weight range for the species. There’s also a distribution map accompanied by a brief text description of the range and, where appropriate, an indication of the altitude the species occurs at. The book comes with a handy laminated card that gives all of the abbreviations used, and this removes a lot of flicking to and from the intro.
Many birders hold at least a passing interest in mammals and, while the full set of HMW may have been overkill for many, AMW offers the perfect one-stop shop for those who want to have the ultimate concise mammal reference work to dip into when needed or simply browse through – the illustrations are, after all, superb and make for a pleasant viewing experience in their own right. The question now is: which group will receive the ‘Handbook of the World’ treatment next?!