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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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great book

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

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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.