Skip to content

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

A 21st Century Bestiary

By Caspar Henderson

From medieval bestiaries to Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings, we’ve long been enchanted by extraordinary animals, be they terrifying three-headed dogs or asps impervious to a snake charmer’s song. But bestiaries are more than just zany zoology—they are artful attempts to convey broader beliefs about human beings and the natural order. Today, we no longer fear sea monsters or banshees. But from the infamous honey badger to the giant squid, animals continue to captivate us with the things they can do and the things they cannot, what we know about them and what we don’t.

With The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, Caspar Henderson offers readers a fascinating, beautifully produced modern-day menagerie. But whereas medieval bestiaries were often based on folklore and myth, the creatures that abound in Henderson’s book—from the axolotl to the zebrafish—are, with one exception, very much with us, albeit sometimes in depleted numbers. The Book of Barely Imagined Beings transports readers to a world of real creatures that seem as if they should be made up—that are somehow more astonishing than anything we might have imagined. The yeti crab, for example, uses its furry claws to farm the bacteria on which it feeds. The waterbear, meanwhile, is among nature’s “extreme survivors,” able to withstand a week unprotected in outer space. These and other strange and surprising species invite readers to reflect on what we value—or fail to value—and what we might change.

A powerful combination of wit, cutting-edge natural history, and philosophical meditation, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is an infectious and inspiring celebration of the sheer ingenuity and variety of life in a time of crisis and change.




1 available at Main (Downtown)
  • ANIMALS Hen, Nonfiction

Publish Date




Format: Book
Author: Henderson, Caspar
Title: The book of barely imagined beings : a 21st century bestiary / Caspar Henderson.
Publisher Date: Chicago ; London : University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Subject: Bestiaries Rare animals Curiosities and wonders Animals -- Miscellanea
Isbn: 9780226044705 (cloth : alkaline paper) 022604470X (cloth : alkaline paper)
Current Holds: 0
System Items Available: 1
System Items Total: 1
Call Number: 591.68 Hen
Oclc: 812081246
Bib Id: 432265

Format: Book
Author: Henderson, Caspar, author.
Title: The book of barely imagined beings : a 21st century bestiary / Caspar Henderson.
Publisher, Date: Chicago ; London : University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Description: xix, 427 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm.
Subjects: Bestiaries
Subjects: Rare animals
Subjects: Curiosities and wonders
Subjects: Animals -- Miscellanea
Notes: Originally published: London : Granta Books, 2012.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references (p. 389-411) and index.
Contents: Axolotl -- Barrel sponge -- Crown of thorns starfish -- Dolphin -- Eel -- Flatworm -- Gonodactylus -- Human -- Iridogorgia -- Japanese macaque -- Kìrìphá-kò, the honey badger -- Leatherback -- Mystaceus -- Nautilus -- Octopus -- Pufferfish -- Quetzalcoatlus -- Right whale -- Sea butterfly -- Thorny devil -- 'Unicorn' : the goblin shark -- Venus's girdle -- Waterbear -- Xenoglaux -- Xenophyophore -- Yeti crab -- Zebra fish.
LCCN: 2012040239
ISBN: 9780226044705 (cloth : alkaline paper)
ISBN: 022604470X (cloth : alkaline paper)
Requests: 0
Available Copies: 1
Total Copies: 1
Call Number: 591.68 Hen