30 Second Zoology
Mark Fellowes (Ed)
Ivy Press, £14.99
If you’re looking for a book that covers mammals, altruism, climate change and segmented worms, then look no further. This addictive little book provides short “30-second” paragraphs on the “50 most important concepts in zoology”, from the basics of evolution and major animal groups, physiology and behaviour, to more applied ecology, conservation and extinction.
Each topic is accompanied by contemporary artwork, a “three-minute synthesis” to add some more detail, and tiny “three-second biographies” of relevant researchers. The chapters are also introduced with longer biographies on leaders in the field, and end with helpful glossaries for those of us who did our degrees a while ago and need some help placing ‘choanocyte’.
Zoology is gloriously complex and wide ranging, which is exactly why it’s so interesting and important, but this book does a great job of providing a comprehensive overview in an accessible and informative way, with minimal effort on the part of the reader. The content is necessarily high level – for instance, explaining phylogenetics in 30 seconds is fairly ambitious, so you may find yourself googling for more.
Overall, though, the book does a great job of explaining how our world has become so diverse, the development of ecological relationships, and why a change in human behaviour is so crucial to maintaining a rich and life-sustaining planet.