'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 

336 pages/2016 – UK & Commonwealth (Icon), US (Basic Books), Japan (Soshisha), Russia (AST)

336 pages/2016 – UK & Commonwealth (Icon), US (Basic Books), Japan (Soshisha), Russia (AST)

Restless Creatures

The Story of Life in Ten Movements
Matt Wilkinson

A book that presents an astonishing new perspective: that nothing in life makes sense except in the context of movement.

Most of us never think about how we get from one place to another. For most people, putting one foot in front of the other requires no thought at all. Yet the fact that we and other species are able to do so is one of the great triumphs of evolution. To truly understand how life evolved on Earth, it is crucial to understand movement. In Restless Creatures, the evolutionary biologist Matt Wilkinson makes the bold new argument that the true story of evolution is the story of locomotion, from the first stirrings of bacteria to the amazing feats of Olympic athletes.

By retracing the four-billion-year history of locomotion, Wilkinson shows how the physical challenges of moving from place to place –when coupled with the implacable logic of natural selection – offer a uniquely powerful means of illuminating the living world. Whales and dolphins look like fish because they have been moulded by the constraints of underwater locomotion. The unbending physical needs of flight have brought bats, birds and pterodactyls to strikingly similar anatomies. Movement explains why we have opposable thumbs, why moving can make us feel good, how fish fins became limbs, and even why – classic fiction notwithstanding – there are no flying monkeys or animals with wheels. Even plants aren't immune from locomotion's long reach: their seeds, pollen and very form are all determined by their aptitude to disperse.

From sprinting cheetah to spinning maple fruit, soaring albatross to burrowing worm, crawling amoeba to running human – all are the way they are because of how they move. There is a famous saying: 'nothing in biology makes sense unless in the light of evolution'. As Wilkinson makes clear: little makes sense unless in the light of locomotion. A powerful yet accessible work of evolutionary biology, 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.