Clever pigs and showers of toads

Daniel Hahn reviews The Cat Orchestra and the Elephant Butler by Jan Bondeson, in The Guardian:

BondesonBondeson has collected stories that span centuries and continents. As well as the incredible performing animals – Hear the amazing cat orchestra! See the learned pig! – he cites natural marvels never adequately explained: showers of fish, toads surviving for years completely encased in rock. For the former, he occasionally suggests some explanation, revealing the crafty showman’s trick, the devices used to teach the pig to spell or the horse to count money; for the latter he wheels out scientific arguments against, and (often more interesting) scientific explanations for, the existence of these seemingly impossible phenomena. And between the performing beasts and the zoological anomalies come the legends – the vegetable lamb, the geese grown from barnacles (this particular tall tale, he says, is behind our use of the word canard).

More here.

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