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Evolving Animals: The Story of Our Kingdom

  • Written in conversational, nontechnical style, ideal for both undergraduates and anyone with a general interest in the story of animal evolution
  • Covers all the main animal groups, from jellyfish to mammals, explaining what we know about the course of evolution and outlining what still remains to be learned
  • Deals equally with the pattern and the process of evolution – with both evolutionary trees and evolutionary mechanisms

By: Wallace Arthur(Author), Stephen Arthur(Illustrator)

375 pages, 119 b/w illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Aug 2014 | #214970 | ISBN-13: 9781107627956
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £22.99 $30/€25 approx
Hardback | Aug 2014 | #214971 | ISBN-13: 9781107049635
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £61.99 $80/€68 approx

About this book

What do we know about animal evolution in the early twenty-first century? How much more do we know today than Darwin did? What are the most exciting discoveries that have been made in the last few decades? Covering all the main animal groups, from jellyfish to mammals, Evolving Animals considers all of these questions and more. Its 30 short chapters, each written in a conversational, nontechnical style and accompanied by numerous original illustrations, deal equally with the pattern and the process of evolution – with both evolutionary trees and evolutionary mechanisms. They cover diverse evolutionary themes, including: the animal toolkit; natural selection; embryos and larvae; animal consciousness; fossils; human evolution; and even the possibility of animal life existing elsewhere than on Earth. This unique text will make an excellent introduction for undergraduates and others with an interest in the subject.

"Wallace Arthur, a renowned evolutionary biologist, has written another of his excellent and easily approachable books introducing concepts, ideas and evidence of evolution. This new book is written in an informal style that a non-biologist should be able to follow without difficulty. He covers animal evolution from its beginning in deep time, and explains current ideas simply [...] Highly recommended for schools and biology students of all levels as well as the general reader."
– Jennifer A. Clack, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

"In Evolving Animals, the reader is taken on a tour through the major events in the history of animal life, from the Cambrian explosion to vertebrate origins, from water-to-land transitions to human evolution – with the benefit of enjoying the crystal-clear prose of a consummate writer who knows well how to produce a widely accessible book without any loss of accuracy or sacrifice in coverage. One of the world leaders in evolutionary developmental biology, Wallace Arthur draws extensively from this field to reconstruct animal evolution from a developmental perspective. In the end, more than being a book on zoology this is a book on evolution – adaptation, novelties, convergence, evolutionary trends in complexity of structure and behaviour, but also speciation and extinction – punctuated by frequent insights into the history of biology and informative glimpses of the new frontiers of phylogenetic reconstruction."
– Alessandro Minelli, University of Padova, Italy

"Wallace Arthur has written a clear, lively and enjoyable guide to the animal kingdom and its evolution. He leads the reader through what we know about animals, their forms, relationships, and origins in the deep past, but more importantly he tells how we know it in a way that's accessible to a wide range of readers."
– Rudolf A. Raff, Indiana University

"As an old-fashioned zoologist/embryologist, I enjoyed reading [this], and undergraduate biologists will gain a breadth of understanding of animals unattainable from any other book I know. This is a good little book, bringing zoology back into the academic gamut."
– Jack Cohen, The Biologist



1. What is an animal?
2. Before there were animals
3. How to make a fossil
4. The Cambrian explosion
5. How to make a species
6. Jellyfish and their kin
7. How to make a tree
8. The enigmatic urbilaterian
9. Animal symmetry and heads
10. A plethora of worms
11. Trends in animal complexity
12. Where the octopus is king
13. How to make an animal
14. Exoskeletons galore
15. Extinction
16. Mouth first, mouth second
17. Comparing embryos
18. Larvae, mouthparts and moulting
19. The animal toolkit
20. Vertebrate origins and evolution
21. From water to land to water
22. Variation and inheritance
23. Evolutionary novelties
24. Human origins and evolution
25. Animal plasticity
26. The nature of adaptation
27. The direction of evolution
28. Animal extremophiles
29. Extraterrestrial animals?
30. The ghost in the machine


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Wallace Arthur is Emeritus Professor of Zoology at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is one of the founders of the interdisciplinary field of evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo), and has a special interest in explaining scientific concepts in plain, nontechnical language. He is the author of nine previous books, including Biased Embryos and Evolution (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and The Origin of Animal Body Plans (Cambridge University Press, 1997).

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