An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Brought to you by Penguin.
Humans have three or four colour-detecting cones in their retinas. Mantis shrimp have 16. In fact, their eyes seem to have more in common with satellite technology than with biological vision as we currently understand it. They have evolved to track movement with an acuity no other species can match by processing raw information; they may not 'see', in the human sense, at all.
Marine molluscs called chitons have eyes that are made of stone. Scorpions appear to see with their entire bodies. It isn't only vision that differs from species to species—some animals also have senses we lack entirely. Knifefish navigate by electrical charge.
An Immense World will take us on an insider's tour of the natural world by describing the biology, physics and chemistry animals use to perceive it. We may lack some of their senses, but our own super-sense lies in our ability to understand theirs. And in the face of the largest extinction event since the meteor that killed the dinosaurs, our only hope of saving other species is bound up with our ability to see what they see, and feel what they feel.
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|Listening Length||14 hours and 17 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.co.uk Release Date||30 June 2022|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 1,426 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
2 in Animal Physiology
2 in Animals
3 in Biology (Audible Books & Originals)
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nodoubt, he enlightens the reader on how these creatures employ special bodily faculties by which
sensation is roused. Yes, it is so stark and realistic. According to my rationale, this book takes you, the
reader, in-depth into another world which I recommend is very fascinating.
Throw in the difficulties of trying to decide just what senses there actually are and how to define and you get some feeling for the complexities being tackled in this book. I did like the quote from Proust - ""not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes". It felt appropriate.
I found the journey I was taken on was fascinating - almost to an overwhelming degree. When I'm reading a book to review I generally read just that book continuously. This one I took breaks from. In part there was just so much to process here (it wasn't a subject I knew much about). This is not a criticism of the book however. It is written in a very accessible way for something quite so complex.
While I mentioned that the book started with the idea that it was not going to make comparisons and ranking of senses I do think it "failed" on the comparisons aspect. However it would be virtually impossible to write this book about senses within a species without referring to the senses that are predominant in another species. I didn't find that this bothered me.
It's hard to come up with one or two favourite topics in this book - there were just so many for me. The sheer sensitivity of some animal senses just blew me away. That owls have asymmetric ears that are accurate to 2 degrees. That otters and seals can track the "wake" left by fishes from 200 yards away. That birds hear bird song very differently from us and that the song varies in ways we simply cannot hear. That turtles have inbuilt location senses that are remarkable. There is simply so much in here to be fascinated by.
I found the last chapter is quite brief but very interesting. It did feel slightly out of sync with the rest of the book. It concerns the way we disrupt animal senses in some quite dramatic fashions. For me it was a subject that could have had more space devoted to it - maybe another book!
This really is not a book to rush. It deserves time to be taken over it and will reward the interested reader amply. For me the fact that in most cases our senses are relatively poor was an overarching aspect of this. Related to that is the fact that, certainly in the past, we have attempted to judge animals senses by what we think they might be like. This is simply so far from the mark in so many cases as to emphasize how little we know and understand about this world we inhabit and abuse. This is a fascinating insight into the diversity of animal senses - I'd happily recommend it to anyone with any interest in the subject.
My thanks to the author and the publisher for an advance copy of this book
By Amazon Customer on 10 July 2022
'An Immense World' is not a book you can read in a few sittings. Yong actually expects quite a lot of his readers, which isn't a bad thing. Every page is full of fascinating information. By coincidence, shortly before starting Yong's book, I started listening to 'Sentient' by Jackie Higgins which, perhaps unfortunately, is extremely similar in theme to this book (they even cover a lot of the same scientists). However, I prefer Yong's book, because in true journalistic fashion the author physically meets with many of the scientists whose work he covers, and gets to meet quite a few of the animals too. Which led to quite a few fun moments - a nice injection of brevity and illumination. Another element that makes 'An Immense World' superior, in my view, is the analysis he frequently presents along the lines of "we never used to imagine this... what else are we missing about this animal?". There's a sense of deep wonder and mystery.
For all my praise, I cannot give this book 5 stars. The reason? THE FOOTNOTES. OH MY GOD. Most pages had at least one footnote, sometimes three or even four. On some pages, the footnotes took up at least half the page. I hate the idea of missing out on any information, so I read them all, but it really broke up the narrative for me. Neither did it help that on my e-reader, a lot of the footnotes went over onto the next page. Even more galling is that a lot of them could have easily been folded into the narrative. What I suspect has happened is that Yong went over his word limit, so he simply moved some content to the footnotes. The result is that it sadly diminished my reading experience.