In Sentient, Jackie Higgins assembles a menagerie of zoological creatures – from land, air, sea and all four corners of the globe – to understand what it means to be human.
‘Spellbinding . . . More than any other book, [Sentient] has made me think differently about the world this year.’ – Financial Times Best Books of the Year
The peacock mantis shrimp can throw a punch that can fracture aquarium walls.
The great grey owl can hear many decibels lower than the human ear.
The star-nosed mole’s miraculous nose allows it to catch worms in as little as 120 milliseconds.
In Sentient we also meet the four-eyed spookfish and its dark vision, the vampire bat and its remarkable powers of touch, as well as the common octopus, the Goliath catfish and the duck-billed platypus. Each zoological marvel illustrates the surprising sensory powers that lie within us and enables us to engage with the world in ways we never knew possible.
‘Lyrical and lucid . . . Higgins makes popular science accessible.’ – Observer
The first rule of popular science is to reveal the wonder and mystery of the world. For that reason, Sentient, written by photographer and wildlife film-maker Jackie Higgins, is my personal pick of the year -- Simon Ings * New Scientist Best Books of the Year * Spellbinding . . . More than any other book, [Sentient] has made me think differently about the world this year. -- Alec Russell * Financial Times Best Books of the Year * Higgins makes popular science accessible - Sentient is a dizzying display of the evolutionary ingenuity not only of lifeforms, but also of zoologists, neuroscientists and biologists who have mapped new frontiers of knowledge. You may finish reading it and wish that humans could use that intelligence to stop the destruction of the habitats all of us live in. -- Saskia Baron * Observer * Jackie Higgins's eye-opening account of the often bizarre or superhuman sensory systems of other animals, from Hades-dwellers to Arctic owls. -- Steven Poole * Telegraph Best New Science Books * Gripping . . . Thanks to Higgins' flair for storytelling, Sentient successfully informs us about our own senses by exploring those of animals. -- Barbara J. King * TLS * [An] epic account of how the senses make sense . . . Higgins's argument, although colourful, is rigorous and focused. She leads us to adopt an entirely unfamiliar way of thinking about the senses. -- Simon Ings * The Times * How would the First Encounter with an extraterrestrial alien change our view of ourselves? Great science fiction explores the question. But we don't need science fiction. The aliens are all around us - the octopus with its mysterious body-image, the electric scanner of the platypus's bill, the magnetic compass of a migrating bird, the moth antenna that can detect the scent of a female in quadrillion-fold dilution. Jackie Higgins's lyrical, literate style will charm you while her book stuns your imagination with strange, other-worldly truths. -- Richard Dawkins Sentient is a tour de force of popular science, leading the reader on a whistle-stop tour of the natural world, to show the fascinating parallels between animal and human senses. -- Stephen Moss, naturalist and author Jackie Higgins puts a mirror up to the natural world so we can sense ourselves through our animal relatives. I love this book because it reminds me of our wildness, it reminds me how powerful our senses are, and it celebrates animals and humans in a way that binds us together. The stories are so interesting and well researched, and the language speaks of an author with a deep sense of biological wisdom and wonder -- Craig Foster, filmmaker and subject of the Oscar-winning documentary, My Octopus Teacher In Sentient, Jackie Higgins deftly explores the sensory world of animals - the exquisite touch-sense of a mole's bizarre nose, the magnetic sense of migratory birds, the electric sense of the platypus - as a window onto our human senses, which echo and some cases even exceed their wild counterparts. Extraordinarily rich in detail; there is a miracle on every page. -- Scott Weidensaul, author of A World on the Wing If we are sentient, how do we know the world? Why presume other species might know it less? In her fantastic new book, Jackie Higgins digs deep to show us star-nosed moles that see what they touch, discovers how great grey owls fly silently in search of their prey, and how sightless humans can see with their faces. You will never see in the same way again. With potentially endless reverberations for our creative and perceptive states, Higgins delivers a series of delicious lessons in what it is to be sensate, and shows how our own brains can emulate the miraculous feat of the animals with whom we share this fragile planet. -- Philip Hoare, Samuel Johnson Prize-winning author of Leviathan and Albert and the Whale I loved Sentient, it's filled with the wonder of knowing and the infinite surprises of nature. -- Stephen Rutt, author of The Seafarers and Wintering Educational, ground-breaking and meticulously well-researched. * Reaction Life Book Digest * Brimming with fascinating, frequently delightful and occasionally freaky trivia this is an entertaining, gentle and easily digestible read with some important and intriguing ideas at its core. * Louder Than War *
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