[Yong's] new book aims to open our eyes to another unseen world...From ultraviolet vision to echolocation, by way of those singing mice, it examines the world of animal senses that extend beyond the limits of our own...It is a delight...Some nonhuman senses are outlandish — a little scary, even...Catfish have taste buds all over their body; if you licked one, Yong observes, 'you’d taste each other'...Rattlesnakes 'see' thermal radiation given off by animals...Seals can hunt down a fish 200 yards away, following its wake through the water with their whiskers...Dolphins use clicks for echolocation, like bats, and can perform an ultrasound examination of their prey so fine-grained that they can differentiate between otherwise identical canisters of water and alcohol...Yong makes heroic efforts to try to understand how any of this might feel...Yong calls his book a 'call for humility,' and it did fill me with a certain awe...But it goes further...Subtly — Yong is never heavy-handed — it prompts a radical rethink about the limits of what we know — what the world is, even...It is quite a book...And, I felt, putting it down, quite a world.
That I found myself surprised at so many moments while reading An Immense World, Ed Yong’s new book about animal senses, speaks to his exceptional gifts as a storyteller — though perhaps it also says something regrettable about me. I was marveling at those details because I found them weird; but it turns out, if I try to expand my perspective just a bit, they aren’t so weird after all ... Yong offers these facts in a generous spirit, clearly aware that part of what will enthrall readers is discovering just how few of these facts many of us have known ... Yong’s book is funny and elegantly written, mercifully restrained when it comes to jargon ... If there is a benefit to trying to imagine ourselves into the experiences of others, maybe it lies in the enormous difficulty of doing so; the limits of every species’ sensory bubble should serve as a reminder that each one of us has purchase on only a sliver of reality.
... a dense and dazzling ride through the sensory world of astoundingly sophisticated creatures. Who wouldn’t want to tag along on a field research trip or peek into the lab of a sensory biologist? ... rich with stories from lab and field, with lucid explanations of the mechanics behind sensory perception. There is more than enough mind-boggling science, with delightfully distracting footnotes on most pages and a whopping 45-page bibliography. Yet Mr. Yong’s storytelling will carry most readers through the thicket with ease ... It’s Mr. Yong’s task to expand our thinking, to rouse our sense of wonder, to help us feel humbled and exalted at the capabilities of our fellow inhabitants on Earth. This rich and deeply affectionate travelogue of animal sensory wonders ends with a plea to us—noisy, light-polluting anthropoid apes—to stop and consider others’ needs: for silence, for darkness, for space. Despite the stunning discoveries chronicled here, what we don’t know about these animals’ experience in the world we share is still virtually . . . everything.