In Consider the Platypus, science journalist and comedy writer, Maggie Ryan Sandford, explores the weird, complicated history of evolution through some of the strangest animals on earth (and a few animals you didn’t know were strange!).
Here’s a list of the top cutest, and why they’re weird:
Over 65 million years ago, axolotls split from the lineage of the giant salamander and the extremely freaky Mexican mole lizard. Axolotls are their cute, millennial pink cousins who can regenerate their tails, limbs, and lens of their eyes!
Bonobos are tied with chimpanzees as our closest cousins (sharing 99.6% of our DNA), which is honestly a huge compliment considering how adorable they are. Compared to chimps, bonobos are more socially intelligent, more cooperative, and have a more human body shape.
Manatees have highly sensitive whiskers and a cetacean body shape that is similar to whales, dolphins, and porpoises (even though they come from very different lineages). Manatees are way less hydrodynamic, but their curves make them cuter.
4) Nine-Banded Armadillo
The armadillo shares an ancient ancestor with the two-toed sloth! Unlike the sloth, the armadillo has evolved to walk on the tip of its claws, protect itself with a hard, scaly shell, and lose its baby teeth.
5) Hoffman’s Two-Toed Sloth
Lazy, tree-loving sloths are surprisingly good swimmers! They also have “extra” neck, meaning that three-toed sloths have evolved to have more neck vertebrae than other sloth species (and most other mammals!).
6) Galapagos Turtle
Darwin’s famous favs are considered “giant” today, but their prehistoric predecessors were actually giant, growing to nearly 10 feet in length in some cases. If you really wanna freak out about giant turtles, look up the extinct marine turtle, the Archelon.
7) African Elephant
Elephants have evolved to have the largest brain of any living land mammal. Size doesn’t say it all, but elephants show signs of acute intelligence through play, learning, memory, and problem solving. Like bonobos, they can even recognize themselves in the mirror.
You can read more about these, and more evolutionary weirdos, in Maggie Ryan Sandford’s book Consider the Platypus: Evolution through Biology’s Most Baffling Beasts.
If you’re on a spellbinding quest to find cool Harry Potter gift ideas for the witches and wizards in your life, look no further! Whether you’re saving the world with a Time-Turner necklace or finding magical merch for your favorite fan, these Harry Potter wands, toys, and accessories will delight Muggles and magical folk of all ages.
The Best Harry Potter Gifts for Kids and Adults:
Recreate the magic of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with this one-of-a-kind miniature castle replica. Featuring a flickering light, a 16-page sticker book, and eight full-color photos from the films, this fantastic fortress is the perfect Harry Potter gift for fans and collectors—and a desk accessory guaranteed to make you smile.
“Dobby is free!” Hear the most memorable quotes from everyone’s favorite house-elf with this adorable and intricate talking collectible. Small but mighty, Dobby is three inches tall and comes with a 48-book page of quotes and full-color photography. Whether you’re looking for a Harry Potter novelty gift or a stocking stuffer for your favorite S.P.E.W. member, Dobby will delight your friends and family year-round.
Not Slytherin, not Slytherin . . . get sorted into Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, or Slytherin with this great Harry Potter gift for kids of all ages. Press the button to find out your fate or decorate your bookshelf with this cute collectible that features a 16-page sticker book and the Sorting Hat voice from the film.
The wand chooses the wizard: give your favorite fan a replica of Harry Potter’s most iconic item with this unique gift that lights up and includes a wooden stand. Imagine practicing Defense Against the Dark Arts or casting your favorite spell with the wizardly wand of the Boy Who Lived.
Let your imagination take flight with this charming replica of Harry Potter’s feathered friend. Featuring a cage and a sticker set, this deluxe keepsake is the perfect gift for the Harry Potter fans and animal lovers in your life. Whether you’re decorating your Christmas tree or looking for a charming companion, this perfectly sized snowy owl is sure to be a special addition to your collection.
Capture the sands of time with this must-have Harry Potter accessory featuring rotating inner rings and a functional hourglass, just like the Time Turner necklace Hermione used in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Three turns should do it. Good luck.
Celebrate Quidditch and capture the elusive Golden Snitch with this perfectly sized collectible perfect for any Harry Potter fan. With detachable wings and a wooden stand, this Snitch and sticker set from the wizarding world is a great catch for Seekers everywhere.
Get the perfect gift for the Quidditch fan in your life with this one-of-a-kind keepsake that includes a Quaffle, two Bludgers, a Snitch, a poster, and a beautifully detailed trunk, which doubles as a keepsake box. Use the lock and key to protect your collection or display it proudly on your desk or bookshelf.
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Philadelphia, PA – August 16, 2018
Running Press Book Publishers announced today the development of a new imprint named RP Studio. Launching in Fall 2018, RP Studio will publish unique paper goods that reflect the innovative and joyful spirit of Running Press. Combining thoughtful content, beautiful visuals, and a strong point of view, RP Studio products aim to entertain and inspire while highlighting quality product design.
“RP Studio is the natural next step for Running Press, which has always published irresistible gift titles and format-forward packages across all of our imprints,” says Kristin Kiser, VP/Publisher of Running Press and Black Dog & Leventhal. “Our deep understanding of visual content has led to great success publishing innovative formats in trade, gift, mass, specialty, and international channels. We are thrilled to be able to offer multiple product formats to our creative collaborators and give our publishing team new ways to create intellectual property.”
RP Studio’s inaugural list includes a range of paper goods inspired by best-selling Running Press books and book product, successful licensing partners, and perennial favorites from the Running Press backlist. These product suites include notecards and a flexi-bound journal from the Bob Ross estate, a postcard book and deluxe set of hardcover logbooks based on Tim Federle’s smash hit Tequila Mockingbird, notecards and a set of three notebooks inspired by the Running Press book Practical Magic by Nikki Van De Car, and notecards and a hardcover journal featuring quotes and art from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved classic The Little Prince™.
Kiser says RP Studio plans on publishing 25-30 new titles a year as part of collections or as stand-alone products. Running Press Senior Editor Shannon Connors Fabricant will oversee the program, which will include bestselling brands and licenses from the Running Press and Black Dog & Leventhal lists and original productions. Formats on future lists will include journals, notebooks, notecards, undated planners, undated desktop calendars, postcard books, sticky notes, inspirational wall art, and unique formats such as coaster books.
The RP Studio list in 2019 will include paper products inspired by Jen Sincero’s #1 New York Times bestselling book, You Are a Badass®, which has sold more than 2 million copies for Running Press, stationery inspired by Theodore Gray’s bestselling book The Elements, which has sold 1.5 million copies for Black Dog & Leventhal, stationery and ancillary product with successful Running Press licenses such as Harry Potter, DC Comics, Pusheen, Sesame Street, Star Trek, and compelling homegrown journals and other paper product formats.
About Running Press:
Founded in 1972, Running Press has a history of publishing products that entertain, inspire, and delight. Running Press publishes close to 200 new titles a year under five imprints: Running Press Adult, Running Press Miniature Editions™, Running Press Kids, RP Studio, and Black Dog & Leventhal. Beautifully designed and creatively packaged, Running Press books, miniature editions, and stationery product cover a broad range of lifestyle and pop-culture categories that include licensed programs, humor, food and wine, craft, performing arts, children’s nonfiction, YA and middle grade fiction, picture books, and board books.
About Black Dog & Leventhal:
Black Dog & Leventhal, an imprint of Running Press, has established an excellent worldwide reputation for creating a quality, varied, and inventive program of illustrated nonfiction and visual reference books. It publishes in a wide range of subjects that include art, style and design, history, science and math, humor, music, food, reference, and more, as well as a small vibrant list of children’s reference books.
Running Press and Black Dog & Leventhal are imprints of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Hachette Book Group is a leading trade publisher based in New York and a division of Hachette Livre, the third largest trade and educational publisher in the world.
New York, NY–October 17, 2017
J.P. Leventhal, who founded Black Dog & Leventhal (BD&L) Publishers in 1992, will be leaving his role as Publisher of the imprint, on December 31, 2017. Black Dog & Leventhal is known worldwide for creating a high quality, varied, and inventive program of non-fiction and illustrated books, including bestsellers like The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages, The Louvre: All the Paintings, and current pop culture titles from artists such as Chuck D., The Jackson Brothers, and Mel Brooks. Next year, Black Dog & Leventhal will publish what might be its biggest book ever, the two-volume The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons.
Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch says: “J.P. Leventhal has been a force in publishing, an original, and a splendid collaborator. His genius for bringing visual content into books in new ways has brought joy to millions of readers. It has been a pleasure having him and his team become part of HBG, and we look forward to his DNA living on in the imprint he created.”
Leventhal adds: “I am so proud of the many wonderful books we have published over the past twenty-five years, and of the smart, dynamic and dedicated team that built us to be the creative, market-responsive house that we are today. What fun we’ve had.”
Effective immediately, Black Dog & Leventhal will become part of Perseus Books’s Running Press imprint, reporting to Kristin Kiser, VP and Publisher of Running Press.
“I have long admired J.P. Leventhal and his beautiful publishing program at Black Dog & Leventhal,” Kiser says, “and am thrilled that we will be publishing these delightful books as a separate imprint at Running Press. J.P. is a singular creative talent in publishing, and I look forward to building on his great success with the wonderful Black Dog & Leventhal team.”
About Black Dog & Leventhal:
Black Dog & Leventhal is the publisher of strikingly original books of light reference, humor, cooking, sports, music, film and entertainment, mysteries, history and biography, and much more, as well as a small vibrant list of children’s books for school and home study. After a long career at the Crown Publishing Group, Leventhal founded Black Dog & Leventhal in 1992. HBG acquired Black Dog & Leventhal in December 2014.