Animal Earth: The Amazing Diversity of Living Forms

Overview

The animal kingdom in all its variety, featuring an astounding number of animal species that are overlooked in traditional surveys
What most think of as the animal kingdom?from elephants to amphibians?in fact accounts for only a tiny portion of the tens of millions of species which scientists speculate inhabit planet Earth.Animal Earth is an unbiased tour of this still largely undiscovered world, illuminating the bizarre appearances and hidden ...
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Overview

The animal kingdom in all its variety, featuring an astounding number of animal species that are overlooked in traditional surveys
What most think of as the animal kingdom—from elephants to amphibians—in fact accounts for only a tiny portion of the tens of millions of species which scientists speculate inhabit planet Earth.Animal Earth is an unbiased tour of this still largely undiscovered world, illuminating the bizarre appearances and hidden lives of the creatures who share our planet.
What is perhaps more surprising is that this bewildering range of animal species are all offshoots from a relatively small number of lineages, sharing a common body plan and evolutionary history. Animal Earth not only provides an even-handed summary of each, but reflects the latest research on the evolutionary relationships between species. How they all fit on the “tree of life” is a topic that has been debated for decades, not least because new species are being discovered all the time; some lesser-known lineages, such as Chaetognatha (arrow worms) and Xenoturbellida (strange worms) continue to defy classification.
Humans are in a uniquely privileged position, given our technological achievements, to protect animal diversity. As Piper makes clear, each species is an integral component of the ecosystem we live in, and we protect animal diversity not only for its own sake, but to maintain the natural systems that keep us all alive.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/02/2013
Readers expecting an elegant study of the animal kingdom are in for a shock as zoologist Piper showcases legions of oft-overlooked species. Noting that familiar animals such mammals, birds, reptiles, and their relatives account for only “4 per cent of the roughly 1.5 million known animal species,” Piper makes good on his titular promise in this impressive study, buoyed by page after page of breathtaking images. Most of Piper’s subjects are of the marine or microscopic varieties: parasitic nematodes, micro-colonies of barnacles and feather stars, “water bears,” and spindly sea spiders are just some of the creepy-crawlies awaiting readers. Piper’s prose, while informative, veers toward the academic more often than not, vacillating between scholarly lecture and enthusiastic guide. But the book’s main draw is its striking images, capturing the iridescent eyes of mantis shrimps (which allow them to see 10 times more color than humans), elegant fireworms, a brilliantly multicolored Persian carpet flatworm, sea slugs (nudibranchs) that look more like sculptures than living organisms, and sinister wasp close-ups that will both haunt readers and draw them back for more. The tome’s only real flaw is burying the photo credits among the acknowledgments in miniscule print; a petty offense, but one that is a noteworthy in a book with such excellent images. Color photos. (Nov.)
Wired.com
“Even among the species known to science, there are many that remain undiscovered by the public. Some of these species are very strange, some are truly incredible and lots of them are very small. . . . Animal Earth brings a few of these hidden lives to life.”
Slate
“Can we all agree to show the ribbon worm some more love? It’s just one of the hundreds of amazing, bizarre, and often-overlooked animals in Ross Piper’s new book.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Dr. Piper sets out the astounding panoply of the world’s fauna.”
Entertainment Weekly
“With vivid, prismatic photos, zoologist Piper offers encounters with dozens of improbable-looking but beautiful organisms you’ve never heard of—many of them microscopic or marine.”
Woman Around Town
“We get a glimpse of those most hidden [species].”
Natural History
“Colorful, frilly, or grotesque forms abound.”
Rangefinder
“Nothing short of fabulous.”
Fast Co.Design
“The photographs here provide a fount of inspiration for both the creatively and scientifically inclined.”
Portland Book Review
“An ode to those critters without backbones that make up the bulk of animal life on our planet. . . . Animal Earth should be in every school and public library.”
Art Desk
“Of the 540 color illustrations in this biospecific tome, most could be confused for selections of modern art photography or graphic design, so visually arresting are the creatures here.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500516966
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 11/11/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 350,163
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Ross Piper, PhD, is a zoologist and writer based in the United Kingdom.
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