Best Science Books of 2017: Zoology

Only three books this year, each of them excellent for lay readers: Mammals: A Very Short Introduction, Immersion: The Science and Mystery of Freshwater Mussels, andSquid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods. There are surely many more good zoology books that came out this year, but I haven’t had the chance to check them out.

Any book from the Very Short Introduction series is worth buying. In just 140 pages, legendary mammal palaeobiologist T. S. Kemp’s Mammals: A Very Short Introduction goes through their evolutionary history, from their early ancestors to their current diversity. As always with VSI books, the writing is great, the information authoritative, and the target audience is lay readers, young adults, and undergraduates.

Writing a book about freshwater mussels and not the well-known charismatic marine ones is a courageous choice. It’s proven to be a good one, considering Abbie Gascho Landis’s engaging writing in Immersion: The Science and Mystery of Freshwater Mussels that both shows her love for these animals and clearly lays out their anatomy, lifestyle, ecological importance, and reasons for their general endangerment. It’s pretty much exemplary nature writing, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in freshwater habitats and their conservation.

Danna Staaf’s Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods is a great read through the evolutionary history of cephalopods, from their origin, coevolutions with predators through the ages, to their modern biodiversity. It’s very accurate, written up in a very casual tone, and peppered with fun researcher narratives. Cephalopod fans will all want this book.


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