'Are we alone?' ... Kershenbaum...takes a novel and rewarding approach to this question. He is not too concerned about the evidence for or against the existence of extraterrestrial life; rather, he is interested in hypothesizing about what forms it might take, given what we know about conditions on other worlds ... As befits a good biologist, Mr. Kershenbaum presents insights informed by what we know about the process of evolution by natural selection ... a wonderful mix of science-based speculation and entertaining whimsy ... He’s always mindful to anchor his conjectures on what is already known—not just about well-studied terrestrial species but, crucially, about universal (hence universe-wide) evolutionary principles. Mr. Kershenbaum proceeds to argue, persuasively, that 'we have enough of a diversity of adaptations here on Earth to give us at least potential mechanisms that seem appropriate solutions even on worlds almost unimaginably different from ours' ... A skeptic—even if one accepts the prospect of complex extraterrestrial life—might object that Zoologist’s Guide is too steeped in Earth-centrism. But one benefit of Mr. Kershenbaum’s method is that, while imbibing credible theories about the possible nature of extraterrestrial life, the reader will learn much about the actual nature of life on Earth ... Mr. Kershenbaum’s answers to the questions he raises are every bit as original and have the added advantage that they could well be true.
... as an expert in animal ecology and communication at the University of Cambridge, [Kershenbaum's] perspective is fascinating ... a fascinating plunge into the deep-time history of life on Earth and animal evolution in all its glorious diversity ... These later chapters on communication and intelligence are where Kershenbaum really settles into his stride ... Pondering scientifically on the concept of the extraterrestrial, of universalities and alternatives, is to hold a full-length mirror up to ourselves. This allows us to deconstruct everything from our physiology to psychology, and so explore why humans are the way we are. To comprehend the alien is to know thyself.
... provocative ... The author acknowledges that his arguments might not convince all readers and are unlikely to be tested in our lifetimes because the likelihood of meeting intelligent aliens anytime soon is /so remote as to be almost dismissed./ Until that first encounter, though, theorists like Kershenbaum will be free to float through an atmosphere unweighted by evidence.