The view from atop the food chain is quite pleasant, thank you very much, but lest we get too smug, consider: As you scan this, tiny follicle mites are likely to be reclining in the roots of your eyelashes, slurping up oil and skin debris through their needle-like jaws.

What we don't know about animals is a lot, and we understand even less. Especially the weird stuff.

John Lloyd and John Mitchinson, in "The Book of Animal Ignorance," have assembled a menagerie of 100 popular and obscure creatures, reveling, Ripley-like, in their peculiar, disgusting and little-known lifestyles all around us. Subtitled "Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong," and a sequel to the bestselling "The Book of General Ignorance," much of the book is devoted to shattering our often anthropomorphic myths that have evolved about animals, thanks to the likes of Walt Disney, E.B. White and Aesop. Or as Bugs Bunny would say: "I ain't upside-downy, Doc, you are!"

Owls, for example, are attributed with wisdom, but in reality are not particularly overburdened with brains. The large, slow-blinking eyes are part of its design as an efficient hunting machine, not indicating power of insight or hypnotically seducing pussycats. "Its eyeballs are almost as large as a human's, even though its skull, without feathers, is barely the size of a golf ball," the authors write. "This doesn't leave a lot of room for problem-solving." Those eyes, though, can detect a mouse in light levels equivalent to a football stadium illuminated by a single candle.

And donkeys aren't so much stubborn as they have a high opinion of themselves, with a keen sense of danger to match. Beavers, though busy, prodigious builders, have strong goldbrick tendencies.

It's a fascinating, witty ark-load of trivia that would make Cliff Clavin proud, bolstered by Ted Dewan illustrations. Still, one realizes commonalities between human and beast.

The box jellyfish, for example, might embody traits of middle management. It doesn't have a brain, per se, just a ring of nerves around its mouth. Its blurred vision only gives it fundamental information such as "Can I eat that?" or "Is that going to eat me?"

Anglerfish are the clingy boyfriends -- literally -- of the animal kingdom. Being much smaller than the female, the male mates by latching onto her side, then slowly disappearing. "Scales, bones, blood vessels all merge into those of the female," the authors write. "After a few weeks, all that's left of the male are the testes hanging off the female's side, supplying her with sperm."

Australian redback spiders actually compete to be eaten during their mating process, because being devoured by the female ensures that their sperm arrives before that of other overeager males.

Talk about fodder for pillow talk! Just don't let the bedbugs bite. And speaking of bedbugs. ...

Jim Anderson is a Star Tribune copy editor.