Strange New Species: Astonishing Discoveries of Life on Earth

Reviewed: December 20, 2008
By: Elin Kelsey
Publisher: Maple Tree Press
96 pages, $19.95

At various points in the history of science there have been those who have determined that the last word on a particular subject has been spoken, that there are no new discoveries left to be made, and that it will be mostly book keeping from that point on.

When it comes to the identification of life forms on planet earth, it appears that the game is far from over. According to Kelsey’s research there are actually thousands of new creatures being discovered annually. Some are tiny creatures, some used to be thought of as part of another species, and some are living in places that defy the usual definitions of livable habitat.

Kelsey’s little book, aimed at school age readers, presents us with a way of understanding the classification systems used for the flora and fauna on Earth, but does so in the context of the strange and unusual.

The book’s seven major divisions outline the discipline of species identification, and then take us on a “Swing Through the Rain Forest,” on a “Dive into the Deep”, to places where life is “Going to X-tremes”. “Gone but Not Forgotten” discusses both fossils and cloning. “Surprises in Everyday Life” looks at some of the interconnections in the biological world and “New Species - Into the Future” looks at ways of assisting in the search for strange creatures.

Elin Kelsey is fascinated by the natural world and dedicated to finding new ways of interpreting it, as we learned during her stint as Berton House Writer in Residence during the summer of 2008. This book, all about creatures that nobody expected to exist, was a natural subject for her.