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 and led to many appearances on national radio in the UK and Canada. In 2004 he was a runner-up in the Daily Telegraph/BASF science writer competition, and in 2005 reached second place in the first FameLab competition. Since then he has spoken at several science festivals, cafés scientifiques and other public events, and in 2008 and 2009 was invited to Hong Kong, Xi’an and Dongguan by the British Council to give lectures and workshops for the Darwin bicentenary. In 2007 he left full-time research and went to drama school for a year, a move that resulted in the writing of a play about T. H. Huxley that was premiered at the 2009 Darwin Festival in Cambridge. He now teaches biology as a freelance for the Department of Zoology at Cambridge University, and is a course director at the university’s Institute of Continuing Education. As well as being an occasional professional actor, he is an experienced audio book narrator, having recorded eight titles since 2010. RESTLESS CREATURES is his first book. Born in 1975, he lives in Cambridge, UK.
The Story of Life in Ten Movements
A book that opens up an astonishing new perspective – that nothing in life makes sense except in the light of movement.
How living things move from place to place is often taken for granted. Yet, not only are the ways in which creatures get about dazzlingly sophisticated, but the need for motility has also shaped the very essence of life on Earth: brains, sex, predation, photosynthesis, the evolution of complexity, the invasion of land and the rise of humanity were all brought about by improvements in getting from A to B.
In RESTLESS CREATURES, the acclaimed biologist and science writer Matt Wilkinson shows how the story of movement offers a uniquely powerful way to explain why life is the way it is. Tracing the evolution of locomotion from the lowliest bacteria to Olympic athletes, he reveals that many of evolution's greatest hits, including almost everything that makes us human from opposable thumbs to the way we think and feel, owe their existence to the evolution of motility. And this in turn rests on surprisingly simple foundations: how life has responded to the physical challenges posed by Newton's laws of motion and other mechanical rules.
Along the way we learn why there are no flying monkeys or biological wheels; how dinosaurs started to fly and how headless chickens run around; how juvenile spiders can manage to reach the stratosphere; why the left and right sides of most animals are mirror images; why insects have six legs and humans have five fingers; why the lives of plants are still dominated by movement even though they're rooted to the spot; why it's better to run barefoot; why roller coasters are so much fun; and what life's movement machinery has in common with growing mushrooms and military tanks.
Publication: Spring 2015
Length: 90,000–100,000 words
All rights available excluding
World English Language (BasicBooks)
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