Squid Empire

The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods
Narrated by: Emily Durante
Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (106 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Before there were mammals on land, there were dinosaurs. And before there were fish in the sea, there were cephalopods - the ancestors of modern squid and Earth's first truly substantial animals. Cephalopods became the first creatures to rise from the seafloor, essentially inventing the act of swimming. With dozens of tentacles and formidable shells, they presided over an undersea empire for millions of years. But when fish evolved jaws, the ocean's former top predator became its most delicious snack. Cephalopods had to step up their game.

Many species streamlined their shells and added defensive spines, but these enhancements only provided a brief advantage. Some cephalopods then abandoned the shell entirely, which opened the gates to a flood of evolutionary innovations: masterful camouflage, fin-supplemented jet propulsion, perhaps even dolphin-like intelligence.

Squid Empire is an epic adventure spanning hundreds of millions of years, from the marine life of the primordial ocean to the calamari on tonight's menu. Anyone who enjoys the undersea world - along with all those obsessed with things prehistoric - will be interested in the sometimes enormous, often bizarre creatures that ruled the seas long before the first dinosaurs.

Contains mature themes.

©2017 Danna Staaf (P)2018 Tantor
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Cephalopod Paleontology

A great deal of this book is devoted to cephalopod evolution and paleontology. This did seem very fitting considering that most species of cephalopod that have ever lived are now long gone. There is a lot said about shells and how they diversified, were internalized, and were lost in some. There is also good speculation on how different groups faired during mass extinction events.

A small side note: I really don’t know why the title of the book is Squid Empire. There didn’t seem to me to be any special distinction given to squid over any other type of cephalopod. I wasn’t disappointed though. This book is well worth the read.

8 people found this helpful

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great book

I really enjoyed this book and it was well narrarated. I learned a lot about cephalopod evolution.

5 people found this helpful

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Comprehensive & entertaining 500my journey

Excellent treatment of the story of cephalopods, cephalopod research, and scientists. It was thorough and entertaining. The author covered a lot of ground, but it was easy to follow and the path was sound. The narrator did a good job avoiding what happens in some science narration -- trying too hard to be entertaining. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

4 people found this helpful

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I predict a run on marine biology degrees...

Thorough and Fun! While working at a tropical fish store as a college student and later as a dive master I had the great opportunity to observe octopuses (or octopodes but not octopi :) and be absolutely fascinated by their complex and intelligent behavior. Then life knocked on my door and I sorta forgot about them - until now. This is an in depth (no pun intended) review of all Cephalopods both living and extinct a fun 'page-turner'! Narration works too.

4 people found this helpful

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needs chart

half way through the audiobook and enjoying it quite a bit. a digital chart would have been nice to have as i listen intermittently and find myself getting lost, losing reference, and then having to google things constantly. just a suggestion to the publishers. fine narration by the way- wasn't sold on Durante's performance at first but i adapted quickly.

edit: finished audiobook, did not regret it. i like cephalopods way more now than when i began and want to know more. will likely re-listen to the audiobook so i can appreciate the evolutionary story a bit better now that i've done a pass through.

1 person found this helpful

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Had trouble with the reader

I was super interested in the topic, and I tried to listen multiple times. But the reader was just too slow for me and I felt there was a mismatch between the reading style and the material. In this case, I yearned to hear what the book had to say, and not be distracted by a lot of drama in the reading.

1 person found this helpful

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Affected and tedious

If I wasn't genuinely interested in this subject matter, I would never have persisted with this book. The author's attempts to make science accessible for the ordinary reader come across as patronizing and silly - little affections, quips, and instructions not to worry if something is too hard. I found her writing style profoundly irritating.

The narration may have made the whole thing worse. The narrator was overacting throughout the book, dramatizing moments unnecessarily, with a falsely warm voice that reminded me of the type of kindergarten teacher even children don't like.

Overall, a deeply disappointing experience.

9 people found this helpful

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Annoying Prose

I wasn't able to finish (or even get far into) this book because the writing style is so painfully self-indulgent. There is some good information and many will probably find the style makes a dry subject more engaging, but I thought the constant pace of cutesy jokes or comparisons too much to bear. I recommend Other Minds for a more adult exploration of cephalopods.

3 people found this helpful

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Something fresh for dinosaur fans

I’m a fan of paleontology, but the dinosaur story has been told and told. Cephalopods are a huge part of the history of life I kinda knew nothing about, so this was time well spent. Cephalopods are more than just mososaur chow!

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excellent read

so much fascinating history and science, this was a treat! great read for people who love paleo or marine bio.