Science Fiction Reviews Science Nonfiction

‘Superlative’ Review: Chasing Extremes in the Natural World

Superlative follows its title expertly, detailing the many species and biological marvels that fall within the extremes of their respective genera. It’s a fascinating book written in a down-to-earth style that’s filled with the excitement and wonder of a scientist’s inner child. At the end, you’ll understand how amazing the world truly is and how much these extreme creatures can help us understand about the world.

LaPlante takes us all over the globe, detailing his many strange journeys to collect information on these extreme creatures. We see him attempting to shovel poop in the wake of a giant whale. We see him searching for elephants deep in Africa. The most interesting aspect is the many conversations he has with experts of every scientific branch. Frog experts, microbiologists, tree scientists. Anything you could want to know about the extremes of the world is collected here.

These are the animals that so fascinated us as kids. Elephants, giraffes, blue whales. Their size alone makes them fascinating to the world at large. LaPlante digs deeper, looking at the many marvelous discoveries made possible by studying them closely. You’d be amazed at what you could learn from the poop and snot of a whale, or from the cutest animal you’ve never seen, the Etruscan shrew. You’ll discover many species you weren’t aware of as you get deeper in the book, looking at land speed, loud noises, age, strength and intelligence. Think of this as a Guinness World Record book of sorts. The difference lies in the fact that these creatures were already record-breaking without knowing it.

Overall, Superlative is an exceptional book that’s easy-to-read and easy to obsess over. You’ll learn so much about things you’ve never thought of and it just might spark a deeper interest in the planet.

Superlative: The Biology of Extremes
By Matthew D. LaPlante
BenBella Books

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

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