In the Womb: Animals

from National Geographic Books


Dutch translation

Praise for In the Womb: Animals

"For a unique gift for Mom, consider the new book In the Womb: Animals. It’s the print accompaniment to the latest installment in the critically acclaimed "In the Womb" video series. Premiering on the National Geographic channel Mother’s Day, May 10, 2009, the series reveals through 3-D and 4-D ultrasound technology the 'extreme' baby-making methods of sharks, penguins, kangaroos and wasps. In the Womb: Animals follows the gestational journeys of the forementioned menagerie, as well as a golden retriever, a dolphin and an elephant. Science and nature writer Michael Sims authors the book with gripping language and the senses of both wonder and humor necessary to undertake a project of this topic. The in utero photographs are both startling and touching—an elephant suspended in amniotic fluid; a close-up of a fetal sand-tiger shark, its toothy grimace all the scarier when we learn that it fights its siblings to the death—before birth; puppies-in-the-making, with their whisker dots and fuzzy paws.

The book’s details will take up permanent residence in one’s imagination, from the fortitude of female elephants, who have the longest gestational period (22 months) and the largest birth weight (270 pounds); to the merciless determination of the parasitic wasp, who injects her eggs into as many as 30 young caterpillars, where her larvae feast and gestate until eating their way out of their unfortunate hosts’ bodies; to the promiscuous nature of dolphins, who engage in sexual antics across the age and sex spectrum. We learn that dolphins descended from land animals, elephants originated in the ocean, kangaroo joeys are barely the size of a jellybean when born and penguins share in parenting duties long before the arrival of their offspring, with Dad babysitting the egg while Mom goes fishing. This book will lend any reader a new and entertaining perspective on motherhood.
—Jessica Rae Patton, E: The Environmental Magazine

"What is life like in the womb? Thanks to National Geographic, we’ve been able to refresh our memories with a beautiful book . . . and it’s weirder than I ever expected.
. . . In the Womb: Animals is mesmerizing, and it can turn you or anyone you know into a veritable fountain of Wow Facts. Since the book is about gestation, it is also about sex, and there is a lot more variation in how animals mate than I’d ever suspected. . . .

An aspect of this book that I particularly appreciated is the deftness of author Michael Sims’s prose. It doesn’t read like one amazing info-bit after another, though to a large extent that’s the material he has to deal with. The tone is conversational and lightly amusing. Discussing the prenatal development of a dog’s mouth, he writes that it is also the equipment he will use to bark, "that impressive tool dogs use to greet, notify, and threaten, as well as to torment writers who are trying to concentrate.". . . Scientists don’t claim to have all the answers; as Sims says, "all over the planet, human beings are amassing . . . facts and doing the best they can to interpret them. When nature reminds us that our explanations are approximate, we tweak them again." This work of observing and theorizing is thrilling. "How exciting," Sims writes, "to decipher old mysteries and discover new ones in previously uncharted territory — inside molecules, at the bottom of the sea, beyond our galaxy, and in the womb." This beautiful record of animal life in the womb is not produced by cats or crocodiles but by members of our own human race, the most curious (in all senses of the word) creature of them all."
—Frederica Mathewes-Green, NATIONAL REVIEW

"In the Womb: Animals is a book of breathtaking beauty and awesome drama. Brisk text and vivid images of embryos remind us of our shared ancestry with other animals, from dogs to dolphins, penguins to kangaroos. The astonishing transition to birth reminds us that all of us are capable of wondrous transformations. Thank you, Michael Sims, for this glorious tribute to the artistry of the womb."
—Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig and Journey of the Pink Dolphins

"In the Womb: Animals offers a new window into animals’ amazing beginnings, through incredible images and thought-provoking text and true to National Geographic’s marvelous interpretation of life on our planet."
—Joan Embery, president of the Embery Institute for Wildlife Conservation and conservation ambassador for the Zoological Society of San Diego

"These unforgettable images remind us that every animal’s story begins even before it enters the world. From our beloved dogs to dolphins, from elephants to exotic creatures, this book reveals how biology and behavior begin to intertwine from the very first moments of life."
—Melissa Jo Peltier, co-author of Cesar’s Way and executive producer of The Dog Whisperer

"How can an air-breathing dolphin be born underwater? Why does a jellybean-sized kangaroo fetus decide to crawl out of the womb? Reading how species develop their diverse abilities while still in the womb is not just exhilarating; it is humbling to be reminded of the astounding diversity of life."
—Bruce Fogle, author of New Dog and The New Encyclopedia of the Dog

"Imagine if you could see the dog you love before she was born. Imagine if you could follow every week of her development in the womb. I cannot suggest a better present to a dog lover (or dolphin fanatic or elephant aficionado) than this beautiful book. I can only hope that one day every species will have a book like this. Not only will you be enchanted by the images, the text too is quite wonderful, telling you lots of fascinating things I bet you didn’t (I didn’t) know."
—Jeffrey Masson, author of When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie about Love

"Richly illustrated with intrauterine images of various species of animals, this book provides remarkable insight into why animals develop the way they do, why there is so much variety in how animals reproduce and grow, and how natural selection and evolution have shaped the animals’ features. In addition, each page is packed with information on animal behavior, curious anatomical adaptations, and tidbits of natural history."
—Don E. Wilson, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution