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Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods

Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods


Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods

evaluări:
4.5/5 (32 evaluări)
Lungime:
7 hours
Lansat:
Apr 17, 2018
ISBN:
9781977380883
Format:
Carte audio

Descriere

Before there were mammals on land, there were dinosaurs. And before there were fish in the sea, there were cephalopods—the ancestors of modern squid and Earth's first truly substantial animals. Cephalopods became the first creatures to rise from the seafloor, essentially inventing the act of swimming. With dozens of tentacles and formidable shells, they presided over an undersea empire for millions of years. But when fish evolved jaws, the ocean's former top predator became its most delicious snack. Cephalopods had to step up their game.

Many species streamlined their shells and added defensive spines, but these enhancements only provided a brief advantage. Some cephalopods then abandoned the shell entirely, which opened the gates to a flood of evolutionary innovations: masterful camouflage, fin-supplemented jet propulsion, perhaps even dolphin-like intelligence.

Squid Empire is an epic adventure spanning hundreds of millions of years, from the marine life of the primordial ocean to the calamari on tonight's menu. Anyone who enjoys the undersea world—along with all those obsessed with things prehistoric—will be interested in the sometimes enormous, often bizarre creatures that ruled the seas long before the first dinosaurs.

Contains mature themes.

Lansat:
Apr 17, 2018
ISBN:
9781977380883
Format:
Carte audio


Despre autor

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 lives with her family in Northern California.

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  • (5/5)
    I've been fascinated by our tentacular brethren ever since we did an under-the-sea play in the 2nd grade where I was a lobster and was envious of those playing squid because they got to sing a wonderful cephalopod song. It is evident that the author would understand my feelings on this matter. Staaf is quite passionate about her subject and eager to share her knowledge and expertise with the reader. I learned quite a bit.The style took some getting used to. It is very casual, and it read to me like blog essays do, which initially was turning me off. After reflection, I realized that had I actually been reading a series of essays and articles on the web, with a fun and engaging voice such as hers, I would enjoy them, and it was simply that I was expecting a book in my hand to read more formally, so I forced myself to get over it. Like I said, I did learn a lot, especially about paleontology, and am filled with the desire to pursue further reading on several topics, which is the best compliment I can give to a pop-sci book.
  • (5/5)
    Everything you ever wanted to know about the rise of cephalopods can be found in this book. Very interesting.
  • (5/5)
    If you enjoyed "Kraken," or "The Extreme Life of the Sea," this can be the ideal next volume on your reading list. Eminently readable, scientific without being pedantic, informative and familiar, this is a wonderful introduction to the world of cephalopodia. There's biology, paleontology, and natural history all in one pleasant book
  • (4/5)
    A look at what we know, and what we don't know, about the evolutionary history of cephalopods: octopuses, squid, and their relatives. Cephalopods have always seemed really fascinating to me, and evolution is kind of fascinating, too. So the evolutionary history of cephalopods, logically, seems like it should be extra-fascinating, but I'm afraid I didn't find it quite as much so as I might have hoped. Despite Staaf's fairly pleasant writing style and her attempt to make the book accessible even to people who'd never heard the word "cephalopod" before, all the details of how shell shapes changed over time, and the parade of complicated terms for various species and anatomical structures did sometimes make me glaze over a bit. Still, parts of it definitely did capture my interest, especially the chapter on modern cephalopods, and I do feel like I came out of it having learned some intriguing things. And it certainly continues to be true that the more I learn about these creatures, the cooler I think they are.
  • (5/5)
    Excellent book. Very interesting snapshot into the history of cephalopods, their brushes with extinction and survival into the modern day.
  • (4/5)
    I received Danna Staaf’s book, “Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods,” as part of the early reviewers here on LibraryThing. Staaf does a wonderful job giving a detailed evolutionary history of cephalopods. Her style was very relaxed, more like an essay, which I found quite enjoyable.
  • (4/5)
    Though Danna Staaf’s book, “Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods,” is essentially a paleontology book, Ms. Staaf isn’t a paleontologist by training. In fact, she’s a marine biologist with a doctorate in squid biology. But you’d never guess it from her book as her discussion of prehistoric cephalopods is presented with both infectious excitement and apparent expertise. In fact, I felt like the fact that she is a marine biologist rather than a paleontologist helped her bring her subject alive, showing readers how discoveries made about prehistoric cephalopods help us better understand living cephalopods as well, a linkage all too often missing from paleontology books.If I have a criticism of her book it’s that Ms. Staaf seems to know her subject too well. She seemed at times to take it for granted that her readers would grasp her points without the need for diagrams. Which was a shame. While her explanations were usually clear, it would nevertheless have been helpful to have been given a diagram of specific cephalopods being discussed as pivotal in the evolution of the species. And it would have been especially helpful to have been given a diagram of body parts that Ms. Staaf noted as having caused long debate in academic circles concerning their placement and use. As it was, the internet had the necessary diagrams, but they should have been in the book.Another criticism is that Ms. Staaf didn’t always remain consistent in her discussions, one minute noting, for example, that vampire squid are actually octopuses and not squid, and the next lumping them back in with squid rather than with octopuses. The name of the things makes for inherent confusion, but it seems wrong to correct some misunderstanding only to then further that misunderstanding.But those are minor complaints. Overall, I found Ms. Staaf’s book written in an engaging style, containing interesting facts and discussions, and very much something I’d recommend to others who enjoy popular science books. Well done (though I hope any future editions will include more photos and diagrams).
  • (4/5)
    Some children ask their parents for a puppy or a kitten. When Danna Staaf was ten years old, she asked her parents for a pet octopus after seeing a giant Pacific octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Thus began her lifework with squids and octopuses. Squid Empire is a history of the head-footed creatures that once ruled the seas. Staaf goes into a lot of detail about the nautiloids, coleoids, and ammonoids which are part of the mollusk family. There is a lot of information about various shell shapes, the advent of jet propulsion and the fossil record. Some facts are disturbing, others are surprising: not all squid have suckers—some, like the colossal squid, have hooks which can be rotated 180 degrees. Some squid are social and may even hunt cooperatively. The pygmy squid is less than an inch long in adulthood. Octopuses are intelligent, curious and playful. Staaf's first octopus, Serendipity, liked to play a game of tug-of-war when being fed. There's also the well-known story of Inky, the New Zealand octopus, who managed to escape his aquarium and crawl across the floor to a drain. He then slid down the pipe and out to sea.Black and white photographs and illustrations add to the text although the labels on the evolutionary history of cephalopods in Chapter 2 are a bit difficult to read due to the small font. There are a few awkward, even ungrammatical constructions, e.g.: "In 2011, motived in part by" and "its relatives disappear before they hardly got started". Although Staaf uses biological nomenclature, for the most part the writing is non-academic and easily accessible to the lay reader. Notes and an index are included.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    To believe in the octopus, as Victor Hugo said, one must have seen it. Octopuses and squid, with their shapeless bodies, their writhing arms, have always felt like alien beings. Their eyes – and their intelligence – have evolved independently of our own eyes, our own intelligence. They seem entirely other.This is a charming and fascinating book about exactly how the cephalopods did evolve. It's basically like the first third of Peter Godfrey-Smith's Other Minds (which is the bit I was most interested in) expanded to book size. Since I am someone who always loved palaeontology but was not so obsessed with dinosaurs, this is a very welcome dinosaur-free exploration of prehistoric fauna.Cephalopods (literally ‘head-footed’ creatures) emerged five hundred million years ago, give or take, and there were three main branches of them. The ammonoids were the ones whose shells you can buy in every museum gift shop – these pretty spirals originally held squiddy little animals, probably with facefuls of tentacles (strictly, ‘arms’). They did astonishingly well, surviving many major die-offs through the eons, until finally buying the farm at the end of the Cretaceous, apparently in the same extinction event that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs.Alongside the ammonoids were the nautiloids, a few species of which have survived to the present day almost unchanged – they're one of those animals that often get referred to as living fossils. And the third branch of the cephalopods is the coleoids, which includes octopuses, squid and cuttlefish. Reading about their evolution brings a lot of their similarities into focus in ways that I found fascinating. All cephalopods originally had shells, for instance, but squid and octopuses have internalised theirs. In squid, it survives in the bony interior shaft called a pen, or gladius, while in octopuses it has almost entirely disappeared (although you can still see it during embryonic development).Danna Staaf writes with a kind of geeky exuberance that is very endearing – she seems very excited to tell others about the awesomeness of her specialist subject and I, for one, was completely won over. My only regret is that she was so hesitant about introducing all the new vocabulary – lots of weird and wonderful terms like phragmocone, aptychus and statolith – and did her best to avoid them where possible, while I was like ‘Noooo, give me more!’ But in general, this is an excellent book for anyone wanting to get a head start on welcoming our new squid overlords.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Disclaimer: I won a copy via Librarything.Unlike Staaf, it took me quite a while to warm up to squid, octopuses and the like. It wasn’t until I read “The Vampie Squid from Hell” by Richard Ellis that I took an interest. Staaf’s book isn’t about one specific squid, octopus, or whatnot; instead it is about the history of cephalopods as a whole, in particular the evolution.Which you think would make it a rather dull science book, but it is not.In part, this is because of all the cool and interesting facts that Staaf shares. For instance, did you know that a sperm whale eats 700-800 squid every day and that isn’t that unusual because apparently everything eats squid, including squid. And then there is the squid’s brain and that is really strange. Not to mention the whole thing about gas. So, all that is pretty awesome.Then there are all the Clue references. Quite honestly, I mean that should have to be all I need to say.But if that is not enough for you, there is this. Staaf’s love for her subject comes through with every single word. She’s not trying to talk down to the reader, to be smart, to be funny, to be cool. She is simply, lovingly, wonderfully writing about a family of animals she loves. This is a love poem. She will make you love cephalopods and give you reasons why you should - like the whole thing about shells.

    1 person found this helpful