An astonishing safari of infant animals – from baby kangaroos to flamingos to squid – and the essential role they play in Earth's ecosystems
Nursery Earth shines a spotlight on the world's baby animals, asking us to turn back the clock on our favourite creatures – and explore how they develop on a level never before seen. Biologist Danna Staaf takes us on a quest seeking out the most fascinating (and sometimes most bizarre) babies, including the elusive newborn Humboldt squid in the Gulf of California, the unusual yet adorable juvenile echidna "puggle", the baby moth that looks and acts like a venomous snake, and the bug with the grandest entrance in the animal kingdom – the periodical cicada, which cyclically inundates the East Coast. Staaf shows us how important young animals are to the ecosystems they inhabit, not least because of their abundance: At any given moment, most animals in the natural world are babies.
Nursery Earth achieves something improbable, helping us appreciate and love Earth's baby animals even more than we already do.
Introduction: A World of the Babies, by the Babies, for the Babies
PART I: BUNDLES OF JOY
1. Eggs: Not Just a Bird Thing
2. Provisioning: How to Pack Your Baby's Lunch
3. Brooding Eggs: Carry Them, Sit on Them, Swallow Them Whole
4. Pregnancy: Not Just a Mammal Thing
PART II: SALAD DAYS
5. Larvae: When Kids Look Like Aliens
6. Unaccompanied Minors: Where Do the Escargot?
7. Raising Them Right: Conservation and Sustainability
8. Evolution: What It Does and Doesn't Recapitulate
PART III: COMING OF AGE
9. Metamorphosis, but Happier Than Kafka
10. Juveniles: Neither One Thing nor Another
11. Emergence: A Cicada Case Study
Epilogue: Our Quiet Dependence on Babies
Danna Staaf earned a PhD in invertebrate biology from Stanford University and has been studying cephalopods for decades. Her writing on marine life has appeared in Science, Atlas Obscura, and many other outlets, while her research has appeared in the Journal of Experimental Biology, Aquaculture, and others, as well as in numerous textbooks. She is the author of Monarchs of the Sea and Nursery Earth. She lives with her family in Northern California.
"Some animal babies are really cute (kittens), and some are a bit horrifying (larval parasites), but this book shows how all are incredibly interesting. Packed with the fascinating and the fantastic, Nursery Earth is a surprising page-turner, as hard to put down as a new puppy."
– Carl Safina, New York Times-bestselling author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel