Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SciFri: Jules Howard and Infinite Life

Regular readers of this blog will know that I love books, especially those pertaining to herpetology or different fields of popular science. This also means that I enjoy visiting book launches and meeting the authors who have put in all of that hard work to produce the books I buy. One such author that I’ve known for some time is Jules Howard. We first met at a toad summit held by Froglife back in 2018, where Jules was speaking on the decline of common toads. Since then, we have crossed paths a few times at the various events where he has promoted his books. This time, this crossing of paths was at the newly renovated Grant Museum of Zoology a week ago, to celebrate Jules’ new book, Infinite Life.

Those of you who have read Jules’ book Sex on Earth, will be aware of his duck vagina VR app that was freely available on Google Play up until recently (due to update and licencing issues). It was through the development of this app and the research that Jules undertook for Sex on Earth, that he realised that there was an untold story behind on of evolution’s greatest marvels, the egg. Most of us don’t think twice when we fry them up for breakfast, but they hold many secrets and similarities between distantly related branches of the animal kingdom. It is this story that Jules tackles in Infinite Life, starting at the Hadean Eon (during Earth’s earliest history), through the Ediacaran Era (the time just before the Cambrian Explosion), skipping past the Mesozoic (the age of dinosaurs), to the present day. Each chapter takes a look at the evolution of the egg within different groups of animals at a specific period in time, working forward towards the present day.

The talk that Jules provided was electric (as always), and filled with a number of interesting facts and anecdotes. Some of these found their way into the book, others have been left on the cutting room floor for another day. We then had time for some quick questions from the crowd, some of which were extremely interesting and insightful. I was fortunate enough to pick up a copy of the book and have Jules sign it, meaning I will post a review here on my blog in the near future with my thoughts. If you’d like to catch up on some of the topics that Jules spoke about, you can hear him here discussing Infinite Life on the Royal Institution Science Podcast.

An animated Jules Howard introducing his talk at the Grant Museum of Zoology

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