An ancient textbook detailing the animal kingdom has been rediscovered in the ruins of a German archives which collapsed into rubble three months ago, the chief archivist said Wednesday. In a heritage loss not seen since World War Two bombing, a pothole opened March 3 under the Cologne City Archives, containing one millenium of original historical records. About 85 per cent were sifted from the rubble.

"De Animalibus," a manuscript by the great medieval friar and scientist Albertus Magnus, lists 477 animals and classifies them by their means of getting around: on four legs, swimming, flying or snakewise.

The book is one of two manuscripts the archives owns by Albertus Magnus (1200-1280), often considered the greatest German medieval scholar. The other was recovered earlier.

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