In (a) it should be made clear that We learnt much ... is considered very formal, and that we learnt a lot/many things ... are the more commonly heard and written phrases.

As for (b) and (c), there are problems:

(b) We learnt a lot/many things about plants and animals. (You cannot use of.)

(c) We learnt about many plants and animals. (It's possible to use of, but this sounds very formal and almost archaic. It's definitely not conversational in tone.)
Richard:

I agree with your version of (c). However, do you really think the original doesn't work?

E.g.:

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The National elementary principal‎ - Page 11
by National Association of Elementary School Principals (U.S.), National Education Association of the United States. Dept. of Elementary School Principals - School principals - 1954

In music we learned many new songs and how to read notes and do part singing.
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Can we really "learn songs" but not "learn plants?"

E.g.:
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Primitive Living, Self-Sufficiency, and Survival Skills: A Field Guide to ...‎ - Page 104
by Thomas J. Elpel - House & Home - 2003 - 208 pages

You could take a college course in botany and learn to use a botanical key, or you could learn plants from pictures or from people you meet.

http://books.google.com/books?...%20plants%22&f=false
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Once again, you seem to come up with obscure, uncommon usages, Jerry, and want to pass them off as being the "normal" way of expressing an idea. This is very misleading for our members.

As for your first example, to learn new songs really means to memorize the lyrics and melodies, so I don't think this is the same use of learn as in learn plants and animals.

As for your second example, because of the context, which is always so important for comprehension, we understand that the meaning of learn here is more like "identify" or "recognize."

My main point, I suppose, is that Vincent's third sentence, We learnt many plants and animals, doesn't work as is, meaning out of context.

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