Book Review – In the Womb: Animals

In the Womb: Animals (cover)National Geographic has recently released a very interesting book for animal lovers. In the Womb: Animals by Michael Sims, explores the fascinating development from conception to birth of a golden retriever, a bottlenose dolphin, and an Asian elephant.

Beautifully illustrated with ultrasound images of these animals as embryos and fetuses, the book highlights the development of unique physical characteristics that the animals will come to rely on once out of womb.

For example, one section showcases the elephant fetus after four months. At this point, the trunk is recognizable, but it will need the full 18 more months in the womb to continue developing. Once out of the womb, the elephant will use this strong, highly dexterous snout to pick foliage, carry objects, suck water, and use as a snorkel while swimming.

The author also touches upon physical characteristics that provide clues about the animals’ ancestry.  For example, at 3-4 weeks, the dolphin fetus develops hind limbs which later retract and disappear. This suggests that dolphins may have evolved from four-legged land animals.

Intertwined with the three main stories are captivating glimpses into the development and behavior of red kangaroos, emperor penguins, sand tiger and lemon sharks, and parasitic wasps. These mini stories reveal the extraordinary journeys these animals make before they’re even born, as well as provide interesting points of comparison to the three main characters.

It is a fascinating read for animal lovers, but parents should note that reproductive behavior is covered in detail.

Dog fetus from In the Womb: Animals

Dolphin fetus from In the Womb: Animals

Elephant fetus from In the Womb: Animals

The book, In the Womb: Animals, is available at Amazon.com.

You may also be interested in purchasing the documentary DVD, In the Womb: Animals.