Our Time On Earth
Lily Murray and Jesse Hodgson
Big Picture Press
Authors are always looking for new and exciting ways to look at animals and how they live. Here, starting with the very shortest and ending with the longest, Lily Murray explores lifespans throughout the animal kingdom. The award, if there were one, for the shortest living creature goes to the wonderful-looking mayfly, the lifespan of which can last anything from five minutes (an American species) to twenty four hours during which time the adult form sheds its skin a final time and a female, having mated lays her eggs and dies in the water whereas the male flies to ground close by and dies there. It’s incredible to think that mayflies have been on Earth for at least 300 million years.
I was surprised to discover that a worker honey bee born in springtime, lives for only five to seven weeks; what a huge amount she packs into that short time, changing her roles as she ages, details of which are given on the relevant double spread. In contrast Periodical cicadas, one of the longest-lived insects might live for as long as seventeen years going through five stages of development deep down where they suck the sap from roots until the soil is sufficiently warm for them to emerge from the ground. In their adult form though, cicadas live for a mere five or six weeks; how they can tell when their seventeen year lifespan has passed, not even entomologist know.
Moving on to some small mammals: both the opossum and the Etruscan shrew live between one and two years, due in part to them being hunted by hungry predators.
There are examples of reptiles, including the thought-to be extinct Galapagos Giant Tortoise, one of which was reported in the news this month as having been found alive,
as well as arachnids, molluscs, large mammals and with a life span of 11,000 years the longest living creature of all and found in the deep sea, the Glass Sponge.
With a wealth of exciting information, this gorgeous book is engagingly written by Lily Murray and beautifully and realistically illustrated by Jess Hodgson who places each animal in its natural habitat. A book to keep and a book to give; a book for home and a book for the classroom.