Restless Creatures: The Story of Life in Ten Movements

Matt Wilkinson. Basic, $28.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-465-06572-1
With a view toward locomotion as “a 4-billion-year dance between the physical rules of propulsion and the logic of natural selection,” Wilkinson, a zoologist and science writer at the University of Cambridge, walks (and swings, and crawls, and swims) through the history of directed movement. He covers a range of creatures, from upright humanoids to Urbi, the common ancestor of all bilaterally symmetrical, repetitively structured creatures such as vertebrates and arthropods. Wilkinson gathers his evidence from both ergonomic studies of living creatures and fossil records; basic embryology; the physics of lift, drag, and momentum; and the physiology of the development of such features as the stable backbone and land-worthy limbs. He addresses the creationist argument—what good is half a wing?—by showing clear paths along which features could develop pre-adaptively. Side jaunts into the anatomy of flyers and motile plants complete the picture, though weaken the feeling of the book as an “evolutionary narrative of the human lineage.” Still, Wilkinson builds a coherent historical narrative while touching on a wide variety of biological topics. Lay readers with some general biology background will find that he’s managed to connect the dots in a way that makes sense. Illus. Agent: Peter Tallack, Science Factory. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/25/2016
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-465-09869-9
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