Book | J.W. Jenkinson Laboratory for Evolution and Development



1. Book recommendation
2. Videos of lectures, interviews and TV

1. Book recommendation

Holland, Peter (2011) The Animal Kingdom: a Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
£ 7.99 To order click

Also available in Japanese, click

and Arabic, click


This book serves as a short and readable introduction to the diversity of the animal kingdom, including a summary of recent insights from molecular phylogenetics and the relevance of evolutionary developmental biology. Suitable for a general readership, undergraduates and non-specialists.

From the book cover: “Did you know that a tuna is a closer cousin to you than it is to a shark? And a coelacanth is your blood brother when compared to a tuna? It is good for us to learn our place, tucked away in one small corner of one side room of the gigantic art gallery that is the animal kingdom. Peter Holland shows us round the whole gallery with the mature expertise of the world authority yet with the light touch of a youthful enthusiast”. Richard Dawkins

“Lovely little book”
Jerry Coyne ‘Why Evolution is True’ blog, 1 Dec 2012:

“Short (120 small pages), up to date (how many animal phyla do you think there are now?), and packed with cool information”
Jerry Coyne ‘Why Evolution is True’ blog, 28 Nov 2012:

“An excellent introductory evo-devo text. For old hands, the description of the molecular revolution of the 1980s and the discovery of the ‘developmental toolkit’ is particularly entertaining. …. it’s worth the money on its own. I heartily recommend it.”
Thomas Butts, The Node, 1 Mar 2012:

“One of my favorite overall popular science books”
Bojan Tunguz, Amazon review, 19 Mar 2012:

“You're going to love reading The Animal Kingdom: A Very Short Introduction”
Grrlscientist, The Guardian online, 23 Jan 2012:

2. Videos

(a) 1-hour lecture 'From Darwin to DNA' presented for Merton College, Oxford, 2020:

(b) 40-minute lecture on evolution, given at the Hong Kong Science Museum, 2017:

(c) A very short interview about animal evolution, based on my Very Short Introduction book; online at

(d) I have given short talks at the Oxford Literary Festival, Cheltenham Literary Festival and others. An edited version from one of these - a 4-minute snaphot - is online at

(e) Chairing a discussion on animal diversity at a Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, with Geoff Boxshall, Sam Turvey and Charles Godfray

(f) Collecting amphioxus in Tampa Bay, Florida, featured in episode 3 of 'Your Inner Fish' (Windfall Films), shown on PBS TV, Eden Channel and BBC4.