There’s the cover! And wow, could it be any more beautiful? The stunning colors and elegant layout came from my publisher Riverhead books and the jellyfish drawings are by Ernst Haeckel, an Austrian naturalist/jellyfish expert/philosopher/physician/artist who lived in the late 1800s.

If you haven’t ever seen Haeckel’s book of drawings called Kunstformen der Natur, or Art Forms of Nature, take a look. It’s one of those works that will stick with you for a long time. You might even start to see his drawings on Etsy products and in random gift shops because they are still so inspiring. Haeckel had the incredible ability to render the most unnoticed creatures on our planet in exquisite grandeur.

But despite his inimitable faculty with the drawing pen, Haeckel did have his flaws. Toward the end of his life, he was criticized by the science community for his staunch ideas about evolution and embryology, and accused of tampering with his drawings to make his point. Even so, I have long been hopelessly in love with looking at his art, and am thrilled its on the cover.

The book’s official release date is November 7, 2017. But, if you are as excited about Spineless finally having a physical form–and such a beautiful one too–as I am, it’s now available for pre-order.

One more bit of exciting news: Publisher’s Weekly put it on the list of the Most Anticipated Books of the Fall! (Scroll down to the science listings.)


While I was in the Netherlands earlier this month, the Naturalis Newsroom was gracious enough to feature me in not just one, but two episodes. The first was the subject of last week’s blog and the second was about science communication. That science communication, #scicomm, has become a thing worthy of a video about makesContinue Reading

The Curious Case of the Jellyfish Curator

I’m just back from the Netherlands, where bikes rule the road but canals force all the roads to meander and curve so you are never quite sure where you’re headed. I was lucky enough to have the chance to give a talk about jellyfish at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, one of the oldest natural history museums in EuropeContinue Reading

Invertebrate Intermission

It’s been a while since I posted here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy with the jellies. Starting around Christmas, I went through an intense fact-checking/end-noting process with Spineless. I found that I could get through about a five pages a day–and the book is around 300 pages long. It was butt-in-the-chair, back-aching kind of work,Continue Reading

Healing Crystals

In the days following the election of Donald Trump I fell into a haze. I couldn’t focus on my work. Given the campaign trail rhetoric, the environmental regulations that I trust to keep my family and me healthy would certainly erode. Advances we’d made toward a future where our planet maintained a stable climate, the growthContinue Reading

Groping for Hope?

  Last week I attended the SXSWeco conference in Austin and had the enormous pleasure of meeting, Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist whose mission is to connect people over solutions to climate change, one of the most polarizing issues in our country. There is no one more articulate at explaining why we all share the values needed to solveContinue Reading

Fried Eggs in Spain

Two weeks ago, I joined 220 scientists from every continent except Antarctica for five days of jam-packed gelatinous joy in Barcelona. The Jellyfish Blooms Symposium started fifteen years ago with just a few dozen or so scientists gathering in Alabama. But as many of the original conveners pointed out, both attendance and interest have bloomed over the years, not unlikeContinue Reading

Bad-Ass Comb Jellies

Jellyfish biologists gathered at a meeting called Ctenopalooza in Florida a couple weeks ago, and dumped some big news on the jellyfish world. And in the words of my 11-year old daughter, it left me thinking, “What the poop?” Back when I first learned about comb jellies in the 80’s they were lumped together with your standard jellyfish in aContinue Reading

Google Glory: Part II

And today the spin-offs arrived!   I’m super happy that the Daily Mail and Sky News went back to the original paper and picked up the amazing images that didn’t make the cut at Nat Geo’s graphics desk of moon jellyfish morphing back in their life cycle and becoming polyps. The news of moon jelly’s incredible ability toContinue Reading

Google Glory

I may be one of the few that have Google Alert on the word “jellyfish.” Yes, I’ve been a faithful subscriber since 2011, collecting hundreds of posts on topics ranging from jellyfish stings to restaurants with jellyfish on the menu to the goings on of an ad agency called Jellyfish to a defunct band by the same name.Continue Reading