Author(s): Matt Wilkinson
A billion-year history of movement, from bacteria to Olympic athletes. 'Packed with revelations, scholarly but clear, Restless Creatures carries you from the kinetics of the amoeba to that of the blue whale, from the swim-cycle of spermatozoa, to why skipping works best on the moon. A pop-science treat.' Gavin Francis, author of Adventures in Human Being Despite the overwhelming diversity of life on earth, one theme has dominated its evolution: the apparently simple act of moving from one place to another. Restless Creatures is the first book for a general audience telling the incredible story of locomotion in human and animal evolution. Evolutionary biologist Matt Wilkinson shows why our ancestors became two-legged, why we have opposable thumbs, why the backbone appeared, how fish fins became limbs, how even trees are locomotion-obsessed, and how movement has shaped our minds as well as our bodies. He explains why there are no flying monkeys or biological wheels, how dinosaurs took to the air, how Mexican waves began in the animal kingdom, and why moving can make us feel good. Restless Creatures opens up an astonishing new perspective - that nothing in life makes sense except in the light of movement.
Matt Wilkinson takes a new, refreshing look at the nature of living things, particularly animals, and convinces even the most sceptical reader of the importance of locomotion to both the form those animals take and their remarkable range and variety. Restless Creatures is the essential guide for understanding how life on Earth was shaped by the simple need to move from point A to point B.
Alicia, The Book Grocer
'It would be hard to find a more companionable guide to the marvels of locomotory evolution than Matt Wilkinson. In Restless Creatures, the zoologist and writer rehearses twice-told tales of animals becoming bilateral, exiting the sea for the land and evolving flight, but makes them fresh. These are wonderfully adept and informed explanations of locomotory modes - whether in birds, gliding snakes, eels, sharks or a host of fossil vertebrates - and there is not a single vignette that I failed to learn something from.' Nature 'Packed with revelations, scholarly but clear, Restless Creatures carries you from the kinetics of the amoeba to that of the blue whale, from the swim-cycle of spermatozoa, to why skipping works best on the moon. A pop-science treat.' -- Gavin Francis, author of Adventures in Human Being 'If you want to know how sponges sneeze, why all large aquatic predators have similar shapes, and how physics affects the lives of the smallest of organisms, turning water into glue, this is the book for you. Highly recommended!' Matthew Cobb, Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester and author of Life's Greatest Secret 'Like the restless creatures it describes, and their tracks through evolutionary time, this book wanders; and it wanders wonderfully. Its author, Matt Wilkinson, takes us on a circular trip, starting and ending with our own species. Around the half-way marker on the journey, he explores our enigmatic ancestor nicknamed Urbi, a crucial stage in the evolution of animal mobility. And his grand tour is not restricted to animals-it takes in plants and microbes too. But animals are special in terms of movement, and Wilkinson's conclusion is that our other special feature - the evolution of consciousness-is linked to our wanderlust. This is a bold hypothesis, and it might just be right.' -- Wallace Arthur, Emeritus Professor of Zoology, National University of Ireland, Galway and author of Evolving Animals 'Restless Creatures proves that the '60's song was right, everybody is doing the locomotion. In his original and insightful book, Matt Wilkinson explains how from whirling bacteria to wayfaring humans, the three-billion-year journey of life has depended on the invention of many ways of moving.' Sean B. Carroll, author of Brave Genius and The Serengeti Rules '[An] ingenious but not-dumbed-down history of life's 4-billion-year progress in getting from one place to another... [Readers] will come away with a deep understanding of an essential basis of life.' Kirkus
Matt Wilkinson is a zoologist and science communicator at the University of Cambridge. His work has been covered in the Telegraph, Metro, New Scientist and Nature. He has been a runner-up in the Daily Telegraph/BASF science writer competition, and reached second place in the first Cheltenham Science Festival FameLab competition. In 2007 he went to drama school, and he wrote a play about T.H. Huxley that was premiered at the 2009 Darwin Festival. Restless Creatures is his first book.