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See Inside Scientific American Volume 310, Issue 3

Book Review: The Extreme Life of the Sea

Reviews and recommendations from Scientific American



Princeton University Press

The Extreme Life of the Sea
by Stephen R. Palumbi and Anthony R. Palumbi
Princeton University Press, 2014 (($27.95))

From “immortal” jellyfish that age in reverse, to zombie bone worms that eat the skeletons of dead whales, the ocean is full of bizarre characters. Biologist Stephen Palumbi and his science writer son, Anthony, profile the most unusual specimens. Chapters cover the smallest, the oldest, the hottest and the coldest species, among others, and the landscape of strange creatures is brought to life by charming writing. On the sex-switching abilities of the clownfish portrayed in the Disney film Finding Nemo, for instance, the authors say, “A real clownfish father who lost his mate would not develop a psychologically complex system of grieving and overprotection. He would simply become Nemo's new mother.”

This article was originally published with the title "The Extreme Life of the Sea."

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