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Biology is a grand, glorious field; and life is an even bigger subject. To present all the information known about life on Earth in one book would be a lifetime’s work—and a huge book. What we offer you is a condensed version of some of the most interesting and up-to-date information in the biology world.

We both consider ourselves naturalists for a reason: We spend most of our time outside in nature—surrounded by birds, fungi, animals, and plants, along with sundry protists and bacteria we can’t see. These natural subjects are all there to watch and learn from—showing us the necessary phases of our world’s organisms, such as birth, dormancy, hibernation, and, of course, death. In fact, you can’t point to anything “out there” without awe, wonder, and an appreciation of all the other life forms that have lived on this planet for just over a billion years.

Here are some of the biological highlights of that past history—and of the present and future. We are indebted to the original authors of the first edition—Naomi Balaban, James Bobick, Sandra Bobick, and Laurel Bridges Roberts—and have kept many of their questions and answers throughout the book. And because a great deal has happened in the ten or so years since the publication of the first edition, we updated some of the original queries—and added many of our own.

We hope you will enjoy this step into the world of biology, and that you’ll use this book as a platform to discover other books or Internet sites about your favorite natural topics. And above all, we hope this book will inspire you to walk, run, gaze, sit, or stand in this beautiful living world. Our planet teems with life—go out there and enjoy it!

Patricia Barnes-Svarney
and Thomas E. Svarney

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