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Author: Jules Howard
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9781472915085
There is nothing more life-affirming than understanding death in all its forms.
Natural selection depends on death; little would evolve without it. Every animal on Earth is shaped by its presence and fashioned by its specter. We are all descended from survivors of starvation; droughts, volcanic eruptions, meteorites, plagues, parasites, predators, tussles and scraps, and our bodies are shaped by these ancient events. And then there is ageing. All animals tell a story of death through the way in which they age. There is death in life.
Amongst all of this, there is us, the upright ape; perhaps the first animal in the history of the universe fully conscious that death really is going to happen to us in the end.
With a narrative featuring a fish with a fake eye, the oldest animal in the world, the immortal jellyfish and some of the world's top death-investigating biologists, Death on Earth explores the never-ending cycle of death and the impact death has on the living, and muses on how evolution and death affect us every single day. Why are we so weird about death? Where does this fear come from? Why are we so afraid of ageing? And how might knowledge of ageing in other animals help us live better lives, free from the diseases of old age?
As you read these words Planet Earth teems with trillions of life-forms, each going about their own business; eating, reproducing, thriving. Yet the life of almost every single entity draws nearer and nearer to certain death. Why? Why is death such a universal companion to life on Earth? Why haven't animals evolved to break free of its shackles?
In this ground-breaking exploration of death, Jules Howard attempts to shed evolutionary light on this, one of our biggest and most unshakeable taboos. Encountering some of the world's oldest animals, and meeting the scientists attempting to unravel their mysteries, Jules also comes face-to-face with evolution's outliers; the animals that may one day avoid death altogether.
Written in his familiar engaging and humorous style, Jules's journey inevitably ends with our own fate: can we ever become immortal? And even if we could, would we really want to?
PART I: THIS IS A DEAD FROG
1. Life and Death in the Universe
2. Senescence and What Waits for the Lucky Few
3. Fear and Loathing in Birchwood
4. Free Radicals and the Secrets Within
5. This is a Dead Frog
PART 2: THE EXPERIMENTAL PIG PHASE
6. The Circus under the Tent
7. Sex and Death: The Contract Killer
8. Coffee with the Widow-maker
9. Suicide, Snowy Owls and the Executioner Inside
10. This is Not a Sheep
11. The Grotto Salamander and the Guano
12. The Horrid Ground-weaver
13. Dark Matters
PART 3: JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE SHITATITE
14. Bring out your Dead Ants
15. Mourning has Broken
16. Who wants to live Forever?
17. No, This is a Dead Frog
Epilogue: The Meaning of the Loa Loa