Vicious Creatures in Macabre Book

Those Victorians, they certainly had overactive imaginations - and much of it macabre. These intricate engravings, taken from J.W. Buel's 1889 book Sea and Land, show just a few of the ways that humans can meet a grisly end at the hands of Earth's flora and fauna.

The murderous creatures - whether historical, contemporary, real or fabled - are all depicted with a liberal dose of sensationalist exaggeration.

A woman carried off by a crocodile: Lucky for her there are some men with spears nearby to help out

A hunter mangled by a polar-bear: Lucky for him, since polar bear livers contain dangerous concentrations of vitamin A

Boy bitten in twain by a shark: As his terrified friends panic and wave their arms around wildly from a nearby jetty

Courageous attack on a shark: That's the way to deal with the flesh-eating fish

Cutting up a whale: The violence isn't all one-sided

Published in the U.S. by the Historical Publishing Co., the book's title page promises 'an illustrated history of the wonderful and curious things of nature existing before and since the deluge'.

But while a host of fearsome antediluvian creatures feature, the most humorous for the modern reader are the representations of creatures from our own time - which have an inexplicable penchant for carrying off our human females.

While these creatures are familiar to the modern eye from countless wildlife documentaries, their depictions in Sea and Land seem to owe much to the hyperbolic boasts of explorers.

A terrible fight with a saw-fish: Those pesky saw-fishes, disrupting maritime joyrides since time immemorial

Capt Paul Boynton attacked by a dog-fish: Well, if you will go kayaking without a kayak...

Catching a sleeping turtle in the Mozambique: Got to be quiet around those things

Battle with the octopus: Quick! Get the hatchet!

Crab lifting a goat: Although it looks rather more like some kind of evil tree-climbing ant-goat hybrid

As well as the unknown horrors of the Dark Continent, the book features many illustrations of the various monsters of the deep fabled by fishermen. Each of the detailed artworks is annotated with a matter-of-fact description of the scene depicted. So know you know what was meant on old maps which warned of unexplored places: 'Here be monsters.'

A woman carried off by a tigress: Because females are so much tastier than males

An orang outan abducting a woman: Has he escaped from the set of Big Foot And The Hendersons?

A chimpanzee capturing a woman: You're my wife now!

A great hunter in a perilous position: That rifle's not going to help you now