The humps and bumps of creatures

Animal Physiology
April 22, 2005

How do the body parts carry out their functions and how have they evolved to do so? These central questions in animal physiology are addressed in a book that is appealing in content and design.

Each chapter opens with a relevant scenario and colour photograph. The epic migration of wildebeest and zebras in the Serengeti; the newborn Siberian reindeer greeted by subzero temperatures; the fearsome marine iguana stressed by environmental contamination; the elegant lacewing performing an aerial ballet; and the human foetus picking up oxygen from its mother's blood are just a few of the images that engage the reader and highlight the significance, in the context of living animals, of food, energy and temperature regulation, neural and endocrine integration, muscle and motor co-ordination, gas exchange and circulation and water-salt balance. The book provides excellent integration of molecular, cellular and systems biology and emphasises comparative physiology and evolutionary adaptation.

Each chapter is packed with colour illustrations, has intermittent summary boxes and concludes with thought-provoking study questions.

The book is aimed at advanced students, and the core material is complemented by the inclusion of specialist topics including navigation, diving and survival in inhospitable environments. In these fascinating chapters, students will gain insight into the research process as they learn how scientists deduced that birds and bees orientate using magnetic cues; that elephant seals hold the world record for diving; and that the camel, contrary to popular myth, does not carry water in its hump.

Pauline Phelan is lecturer in cell biology, University of Kent at Canterbury.

Animal Physiology

Author - Richard W. Hill, Gordon A. Wyse and Margaret Anderson
Publisher - Sinauer
Pages - 770
Price - £39.99
ISBN - 0 87893 315 8

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