by Kimberly Ridley
48 pages; ages 10-13. Tilbury House, 2017
They’re prowling around the planet now … prehistoric beasts whose ancestors survived the catastrophes that wiped out the dinosaurs. Don’t look now, but one might be lurking in your backyard…
That’s an introduction that grabs your attention! Prehistoric beasts in the backyard? Absolutely. Also in the ocean, on the beach, sliming across a jungle floor. In the pages of this book, Kimberly Ridley introduces readers to ten creatures that have survived the centuries: the toothy goblin shark, the spiky tuatara, horseshoe crabs, tardigrades, and more. And she reveals their survival secrets.
Running throughout the book is a conversation about evolution – the gradual change in organisms over generations. Organisms that are better adapted to their environment tend to be preserved through later generations, Ridley explains. She provides examples of natural selection in action and discusses advantages of certain adaptations. Like the comb jellies that, more than 550 million years ago, were among the first animals to evolve skin and muscles. Even more important than having a primitive “brain”, these animals had an anus – so food could go in one end of their digestive system and be excreted out their rear end. This adaptation allowed digestive tracts to develop, further allowing evolution of larger animals. Pretty cool, huh!
Of course there is Back Matter! More info on extreme discoveries, and a couple of nicely illustrated timelines plus quick facts on every animal: how big it is, what it eats, what eats it, when it appeared on earth. And for kids who want to dive deeper into the topic, Ridley provides a list of books and websites.
Want to know more? Head over to Archimedes Notebook for an interview with Kimberly Ridley.
It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
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