From a noted Cambridge zoologist, a wildly fun and scientifically sound exploration of what alien life must be like, using universal laws that govern life on Earth and in space. Scientists are confident that life exists elsewhere in the universe. Yet rather than taking a realistic approach to what aliens might be like, we imagine that life on other planets is the stuff of science fiction. The time has come to abandon our fantasies of space invaders and movie monsters and place our expectations on solid scientific footing. But short of aliens landing in New York City, how do we know what they are like? Using his own expert understanding of life on Earth and Darwin's theory of evolution--which applies throughout the universe--Cambridge zoologist Dr. Arik Kershenbaum explains what alien life must be like: how these creatures will move, socialize, and communicate. For example, by observing fish whose electrical pulses indicate social status, we can see that other planets might allow for communication by electricity. As there was evolutionary pressure to wriggle along a sea floor, Earthling animals tend to have left/right symmetry; on planets where creatures evolved in midair or in soupy tar, they might be lacking any symmetry at all. Might there be an alien planet with supersonic animals? A moon where creatures have a language composed of smells? Will aliens scream with fear, act honestly, or have technology? The Zoologist's Guide to the Galaxy answers these questions using the latest science to tell the story of how life really works, on Earth and in space.
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“Rather than offer a fantastic version of extraterrestrial life, [Kershenbaum] gives readers something logical to consider and, in so doing, provides insight on animals and humans as he explores how life, communication, and movement have evolved.”
“If you don’t want to be surprised by extraterrestrial life, look no further than this lively overview of the laws of evolution that have produced life on earth.”
— Frans de Waal, New York Times bestselling author
“A wonderful mix of science-based speculation and entertaining whimsy.”
— Wall Street Journal
“Entertaining and thought provoking…[a] tentative sketch of the nature of potential alien life on other potentially habitable planets.”
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About Arik Kershenbaum
Dr. Arik Kershenbaum is a zoologist, college lecturer, and Fellow at Girton College, University of Cambridge. He has researched animal vocal communication for the past ten years in Europe, Israel, and the United States and has published more than twenty academic publications on the topic. He is also a member of the international board of advisors for METI.org, a think tank on the topic of Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.
About Samuel West
Samuel West’s theater work includes ENRON, Hamlet for the RSC, and starring opposite his father Timothy in A Number. His TV credits
include Cambridge Spies, Any Human Heart, Eternal Law, and Mr.
Selfridge, and he has narrated many TV documentaries. Among his films are Hyde Park on Hudson, Van Helsing, Iris, Persuasion, and Howards End. He has also directed ten
plays and two operas.