HORSESHOE CRABS AND VELVET WORMS: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind
Published by Knopf April 11, 2012
“Engrossing and informative.
“In this fascinating, well-written book, Richard Fortey offers a worldwide tour of places whose lands and waters shelter extraordinary forms of life that have overcome mass extinctions, sea-level changes, ice ages and other obstacles to survive into the present. Taking great joy in his trip back in time, Fortey plays both adventurer and detective as he searches for these ancients.
“At Delaware Bay, he watches the mating orgy of horseshoe crabs, which for millennia have laid and fertilized their eggs along the shoreline. On New Zealand’s North Island, in a rotting pine log, he finds the elusive caterpillar-like velvet worm, which survived the same event that killed the dinosaurs. Detailing the appearance and behavior of each species, Fortey explains each life form’s place in evolutionary history. In Shark Bay, Australia, he finds living stromatolites (mounds built by microscopic organisms) dating back 3.5 billion years.
“With occasional outbursts of ‘And there it is!’ he tracks down many other creatures, including the lizard-like tuatara on a log in New Zealand ‘looking as if it were resting after a stroll from the Triassic,’ and the echidna, an oddly shaped mammal living on Australia’s Kangaroo Island. Evolution goes on, writes the author. These species are not exactly the same as those in the distant past, but they are here and alive now.”
—KIRKUS, a starred review
“Delightful…Even those squeamish about worms will find the author’s enthusiastic excavations charming.”
—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, a starred review
In the above photo, the author holds a Neoceratodus, an Australian lungfish, which is probably the closest to the evolutionary line that became terrestrial.
Gabrielle Brooks | 212-572-2152 | firstname.lastname@example.org