Slamannan author gets animal instincts

Allyson with her book 'Peculiar Penguins and Funny Looking Frogs'
Allyson with her book 'Peculiar Penguins and Funny Looking Frogs'
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An archaeologist swapped studying ancient relics for living things to pen a book on the evolution of the animal kingdom.

Allyson Shepard Bailey (50), originally from Western, New York in the USA but now living in Slamannan, decided to write ‘Peculiar Penguins and Funny Looking Frogs’ as a “layman’s” guide to how certain animals behave the way they do after loads of research.

The penguin, for instance, spends its winter in the Antartic in conditions of minus 50 degrees, 50 miles from the nearest food source, balancing an egg on its foot, according to Allyson.

The mother-of-one said: “The best we can figure is that the Antartic used to be quite nice, but gradually became frozen over the centuries. But instead of moving they just adapted to their environment.

“The penguin balance their eggs on their feet to keep them warm because the ground is frozen so the eggs wouldn’t survive otherwise.”

She added: “Like many people I am happy to claim that I have always loved animals.

“There’s some really interesting stuff about cats and dogs in the book as well. Cats are better hunters than dogs and are wilder. No one has ever made a cat do something it doesn’t want to do and one tiger can take down an animal it would take a pack of wolves to do.”

Allyson’s varied career includes training as an archaeologist at Bryn Mawr College and Sheffield and Edinburgh Universities.

She now works in research and development for the NHS after moving to Britain in 1984, setting up home in Slamannan a year later with husband Geoff, who is Falkirk’s keeper of local history and archaeology.

The book is scientifically researched and vetted, aimed at providing people with basic, interesting and entertaining information about animals and “lavishly” illustrated with photographs, many taken by Allyson herself.

Her love of animals has been with her from a very young age leading to stints volunteering at Edinburgh Zoo and the Five Sisters Zoo in West Lothian which was recently devastated by a fire.

Part of the profits from the sale of the book will go to conservation and wildlife charities.

For more information on the book visit