What most think of as the animal kingdom—from elephants to amphibians—in fact accounts for only a tiny portion of the tens of millions of species that scientists speculate inhabit planet Earth. Animal Earth is an unbiased tour of this still largely undiscovered world, illuminating the bizarre appearances and hidden lives of the creatures that share our planet, but which we’ve rarely, if ever, seen.
What is perhaps more surprising is that this bewildering range of animal species can be traced to a small number of lineages, sharing a common body plan and evolutionary history. Animal Earth not only provides an evenhanded summary of each but also reflects the latest research on the evolutionary relationships between species. How they all fit in the tree of life is a topic that has been debated for decades, not least because new species are being discovered all the time; some lesser-known lineages, such as the Chaetognatha (arrow worms) and Xenoturbellida (strange worms) continue to defy classification.
Given our technological achievements, humans are in a uniquely privileged position to protect animal diversity. As Ross Piper makes clear, each species is an integral component of the ecosystem we live in, and we protect animal diversity not only for its own sake but to maintain the natural systems that keep us alive.
The book’s main draw is its striking images, capturing the iridescent eyes of mantis shrimps …a brilliantly multicolored Persian carpet flatworm, sea slugs …that look more like sculptures than living organisms, and sinister wasp close-ups that will both haunt readers and draw them back for more.
— Publishers Weekly
With vivid, prismatic photos, zoologist Piper offers encounters with dozens of improbable-looking but beautiful organisms you’ve never heard of—many of them microscopic or marine.
— Entertainment Weekly
Even among the species known to science, there are many that remain undiscovered by the public. Some of these species are very strange, some are truly incredible and lots of them are very small…Animal Earth brings a few of these hidden lives to life.
Can we all agree to show the ribbon worm some more love? It’s just one of the hundreds of amazing, bizarre, and often-overlooked animals in Ross Piper’s new book.
We get a glimpse of those most hidden [species].
— Woman Around Town
Colorful, frilly, or grotesque forms abound.
— Natural History
Nothing short of fabulous.
The photographs here provide a fount of inspiration for both the creatively and scientifically inclined.
— Fast Co. Design
Of the 540 color illustrations in this biospecific tome, most could be confused for selections of modern art photography or graphic design, so visually arresting are the creatures here.
— Art Desk
An ode to those critters without backbones that make up the bulk of animal life on our planet…Animal Earth should be in every school and public library.
— Portland Book Review
Stunning photos of the animals who are the building blocks of our world.
Dr. Piper sets out the astounding panoply of the world’s fauna.
— The Wall Street Journal
Ross Piper, PhD, is a zoologist and writer based in the United Kingdom.