The Invertebrate Tree of Life

Invert. tree of life

Gonzalo Giribet and Gregory D. Edgecombe
Princeton University Press, £70.00 (Hardcover)

Giribet and Edgecombe, respectively zoology professor at Harvard and merit researcher at the Natural History Museum, London, have brought their combined expertise to bear to produce an impressive synthesis of invertebrate zoology that will be welcomed by anyone with a scholarly interest in the subject.

The book, which is sure to find a home in all university libraries and zoology departments, takes an avowedly phylogenetic approach, hardly surprising since the authors have between them published hundreds of scientific papers investigating metazoan phylogenies. Not only are the latest genomic and other molecular analyses reviewed, but also the anatomy, physiology, developmental biology, natural history and fossil record of each of the invertebrate phyla and their component taxa.

Whilst the authors have drawn upon the latest research at the time of writing (up to mid-2019) they also refer to original work of zoologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Each phylum is given its own chapter, with additional chapters exploring what came before animals, as well as the ‘problematic’ groups or species. The book is well illustrated throughout with clear diagrams, photographs and micrographs, many in full colour, and of course many detailed phylogenetic trees.

This is not an introductory book for someone embarking on a study of invertebrate zoology. However, for working biologists, postgraduate students and advancing undergraduates, its nearly six hundred pages provide a substantial overview and a major reference work that will be widely and repeatedly consulted. For those who wish to go further, the approximately three thousand references in the bibliography (almost all of which have been checked by the authors) provide the means to do so.

Mike Smith FRSB