These are my top 5 popular zoology books for 2015. They are suitable for all ages and education levels, so whether you’re a student, a parent, or a teacher, these will be great additions to your animal library. Personal reviews available on request!
See the rest of this year’s book recommendations here!
Ask anyone to picture a bird or a fish and a series of clear images will immediately come to mind. Ask the same person to picture plankton and most would have a hard time conjuring anything beyond a vague squiggle or a greyish fleck. This book will change that forever. Viewing these creatures up close for the first time can be a thrilling experience – an elaborate but hidden world truly opens up before your eyes. Through hundreds of close-up photographs Plankton transports readers into the currents where jeweled chains hang next to phosphorescent chandeliers, spidery claws jut out from sinuous bodies, and gelatinous barrels protect microscopic hearts. The creatures’ vibrant colors pop against the black pages, allowing readers to examine every eye and follow every tentacle. Jellyfish, tadpoles, and bacteria all find a place in the book, representing the broad scope of organisms dependent on drifting currents. Christian Sardet’s enlightening text explains the biological underpinnings of each species while connecting them to the larger living world. He begins with plankton’s origins and history, then dives into each group, covering ctenophores and cnidarians, crustaceans and mollusks, and worms and tadpoles. He also demonstrates the indisputable impact of plankton in our lives. Plankton drift through our world mostly unseen, yet they are diverse organisms that form ninety-five percent of ocean life. Biologically, they are the foundation of the aquatic food web and consume as much carbon dioxide as land-based plants. Culturally, they have driven new industries and captured artists’ imaginations. While scientists and entrepreneurs are just starting to tap the potential of this undersea forest, for most people these pages will represent uncharted waters. Plankton is a spectacular journey that will leave readers seeing the ocean in ways they never imagined.
While we joke that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, our gender differences can’t compare to those of many other animals. For instance, the male garden spider spontaneously dies after mating with a female more than fifty times his size. And male blanket octopuses employ a copulatory arm longer than their own bodies to mate with females that outweigh them by four orders of magnitude. Why do these gender gulfs exist? Introducing readers to important discoveries in animal behavior and evolution, Odd Couples explores some of the most extraordinary sexual differences in the animal world. Daphne Fairbairn uncovers the unique and bizarre characteristics of these remarkable species and the special strategies they use to maximize reproductive success. Fairbairn also considers humans and explains that although we are keenly aware of our own sexual differences, they are unexceptional within the vast animal world. Looking at some of the most amazing creatures on the planet, Odd Couples sheds astonishing light on what it means to be male or female in the animal kingdom.
Throughout history, the influence of the full Moon on humans and animals has featured in folklore and myths. Yet it has become increasingly apparent that many organisms really are influenced indirectly, and in some cases directly, by the lunar cycle. Breeding behaviour among some marine animals has been demonstrated to be controlled by internal circalunar biological clocks, to the point where lunar-daily and lunar-monthly patterns of Moon-generated tides are embedded in their genes. Yet, intriguingly, Moon-related behaviours are also found in dry land and fresh water species living far beyond the influence of any tides. In Moonstruck, Ernest Naylor dismisses the myths concerning the influence of the Moon, but shows through a range of fascinating examples the remarkable real effects that we are now finding through science. He suggests that since the advent of evolution on Earth, which occurred shortly after the formation of the Moon, animals evolved adaptations to the lunar cycle, and considers whether, if Moon-clock genes occur in other animals, might they also exist in us?
John Berger famously said that “in the last two centuries, animals have gradually disappeared.” Those who share his view contend that animals have been removed from our daily lives and that we have been removed from the daily lives of animals. This has been the impetus for a plethora of representational practices that, broadly conceived, work to fill in the gap between humans and animals. Ironically, many of these may ultimately intensify the very nostalgia, distance, and ignorance they were devised to remedy. Animals on Display presents nine lively and engaging essays on the historical representation and display of nonhuman animals. Looking at a wide range of examples, many of them now little known, the essays situate them in their historical and sociocultural contexts, while speaking to the ongoing importance of making animals visible for the arrangement and sustenance of human-animal relations. Aside from the editors, the contributors are Brita Brenna, Guro Flinterud, Henry A. McGhie, Brian W. Ogilvie, Nigel Rothfels, and Lise Camilla Ruud.
The animal kingdom is staggeringly diverse, but the animals that most easily spring to mind the tigers, elephants, eagles and crocodiles, or perhaps amphibians, fish, insects and even humans account for only a tiny proportion of known species. Whats more, there are estimated to be many tens of millions still unknown to science. Animal Earth is an unbiased tour of this world, highlighting the bizarre appearances, hidden lives and mostly small scale of the creatures with whom we share our planet. The bewildering number of animal species are all offshoots from a relatively small number of lineages, all sharing a common body plan and evolutionary history. This book provides a broadly equal summary of each of these thirty-five lineages, and is structured according to the latest research on the evolutionary relationships of the animals. Every species is an integral component of the ecosystem we live in, and as intelligent beings it is our duty to protect and understand animal diversity not only for its own sake but also to maintain the natural systems that keep us and everything else alive.