Ten creatures that make the dinosaurs look like newcomers.
Properly noting that evolution works continuously on all life, Ridley profiles multicelled animals that have nonetheless really withstood the test of time without major alteration. These include the lizardlike tuatara (200 million years), the hardy lungfish (300 million years), sponges (600 million years), and possibly even more ancient comb jellies: “among the earliest animals to have…a butt.” Winning close-ups of a roly-poly tardigrade (530 million years) and luridly snaggle-toothed goblin sharks (125 million years) lead off a spectacular suite of photos to which the author adds pithy descriptive comments and reflections on evolutionary processes, plus insights into just how these survivalists might have endured when 99 percent of all other life forms have gone extinct. Humans (200,000 years), represented here by a picture of a racially diverse group of children, are a long way from demonstrating similar longevity.
Perspective-building intros to some of our most ancient relatives. (timeline, summary facts, glossary, further reading) (Nonfiction. 10-13)