The book is about muscles and skeletons, hearts, fluids and brains. Quite a large chunk of the book is about flight. I found the most captivating chapter was “Tiffany wings and kite strings”. It is all about tiny fliers: microfilm model airplanes and microscopic flying insects. It reveals that the mechanism that insects use to fly is different to birds. After reading this, you may think twice about squishing the next harmless little insect that flies right by you. The section on drag was surprisingly very interesting.
Although it introduces familiar animals, it goes into enough detail to provide substantially new and rewarding information about these creatures, which you almost certainly won’t be aware of. There are loads of great diagrams, which really make this book very enjoyable to read. The book is straightforward and I relished reading it.
A very very similar book is called “Cats’ Paws and Catapults”. It also contains many examples of design, although it is from an engineering perspective, and the focus is on comparing the design of evolution with that of technological invention. I think Diatoms to Dinosaurs is a much more interesting read – it is predominantly concerned with nature, not with technology. This book is simply more profound, but both books are very good.