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From toothy great white sharks to bad-tempered koalas, Szymanski introduces dozens of different animals through striking, close-up color photographs. The images usually cover a full page and sometimes three-quarters of a double-page spread. Each animal gets a paragraph of text describing its offensive or defensive weapons. There’s no obvious organization, but occasionally a spread will feature a group with common characteristics such as large appetites, powerful bites, or dangerous body parts. Some of these animals are deadly to humans—toxic to eat or capable of inflicting a mortal wound—but many would more accurately be labeled dangerous. Readers might not expect to encounter some of the creatures, like dragonflies and pelicans, both of which have prodigious appetites, and prey with highly developed defenses that can make a stink, like tamanduas and skunks, or fulmars, a type of seabird with oily vomit. There are carnivores and vegetarians; land, sea, and sky dwellers; and familiar and unfamiliar creatures from all over the world. This work is a browser’s delight, with a helpful index that includes animal groups (birds, the cat family, etc.) as well as individual species, for easy access. Fans of the earlier volume, Cutest Animals on the Planet (2021), will surely want to explore this follow-up title.

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