At long last, after 31 years, the first book by noted British zoologist and cryptozoologist Karl Shuker has been expanded and updated. Mystery Cats of the World first appeared in 1989 and was the only book to review feline cryptids worldwide. In this 2020 edition, Shuker repeats this admirable achievement and, in the process, gives us a solid overview of current knowledge of felid evolution, taxonomy, and genetic variation. In fact, the only feline mystery cat he does not describe is Hello Kitty. Shuker has more than kept up with cryptozoology over the years, keeping the public informed with numerous popular books on dragons, new and rediscovered animals, the Loch Ness monster, and many other lesser-known cryptids. His ShukerNature blog and his regular “Alien Zoo” column in Fortean Times provide an always-fascinating glimpse into ongoing cryptozoological controversies. Scientific names and genetic relationships are updated throughout the text in this new edition. He notes that since 1989, our understanding of genes that cause variations in felid coat color has become more complicated. For example, the chinchilla mutation in tyrosinase was then considered responsible for “partial albino” tigers (white tigers with black stripes). In 2020, a point mutation in a transporter protein that prevents the manufacture of pheomelanin (red and yellow pigments) is seen as a more likely cause. Rather than go into great detail about these ongoing discoveries, Shuker sensibly opts to include the bare minimum of updated felid genetics in his discussions of specific cryptids. However, for clarity and comparison he provides a table from the first edition that describes the six major genes and their mutant alleles that in the 1970s were thought by UK geneticist Roy Robinson to be responsible for major cat color morphs. (Believe me, this chart comes in handy throughout the book.)
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