As far as we know, Earth is the only inhabited planet in the Universe. So what makes Earth such an ideal place for life to survive? And how did it all get started? This book goes back to the beginnings of life on Earth, explaining how it emerged under hostile conditions from a chemical soup as a simple self-contained unit: the cell. Key biological themes, such as how cells work, produce energy, and reproduce are explained in simple terms. This knowledge is then used to gain an understanding of how more complex organisms live. The book also looks at the wide variety of plant and animal life on Earth, how it evolved, and introduces the features and characteristics of members of the six kingdoms of life. This is followed by sections that show how living things interact with each other and the environment in a complicated web of interdependence. Readers will also learn how life forms have adapted to occupy particular niches and what can happen if something upsets the balance. The book goes on to explore what it takes to survive: from finding a home, getting on with the neighbors, and protecting what's yours, to the sneaky underhand tactics that some species use to sustain their own way of life. The human animal is briefly considered as one of the supreme examples of adaptation and evolution but also as a walking ecosystem in its own right. It finishes with the problems of life at the extremes. Lavishly illustrated with images from DK's extensive natural history photo library, this book is a visual feast as well as a thorough treatment of the biology. Scientific ideas that might seem intimidating in a textbook are stripped to the bare bones and made lucid at a glance through DK's unique visual style.
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