I, Mammal

The Story of What Makes Us Mammals



"A witty romp through evolution [...] I, Mammal is just the sort of book that can spark a love of nature and an appreciation for the ever-changing, eternally correcting march of science." Science

" This splendid evolutionary study, [...]  is an erudite analysis of organisms as “Russian dolls of biological identity” Nature

“With wit and passion, Drew explores what it means to be a mammal [...] There’s much here to be savored by scientists and nonscientists alike."  Publishers Weekly  

"In his highly readable and anecdotal style, [...] Drew’s immersion makes one proud to be a mammal."  The Booklist

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Blurb

Humans are mammals. Most of us appreciate that at some level. But what does it mean for us to have more in common with a horse and an elephant than we do with a parrot, snake or frog?

After a misdirected football left new father Liam Drew clutching a uniquely mammalian part of his anatomy, he decided to find out more. Considering himself as a mammal first and a human second, Liam delves into ancient biological history to understand what it means to be mammalian.

In his humorous and engaging style, Liam explores the different characteristics that distinguish mammals from other types of animals. He charts the evolution of milk, warm blood and burgeoning brains, and examines the emergence of sophisticated teeth, exquisite ears, and elaborate reproductuve biology, plus a host of other mammalian innovations. Entwined are tales of zoological peculiarities and reflections on how being a mammal has shaped the author's life.

Ultimately, I, Mammal is a history of mammals and their ancestors and of how science came to grasp mammalian evolution. And in celebrating our mammalian-ness, Liam Drew binds us a little more tightly to the five and a half thousand other species of mammal on this planet and reveals the deep roots of many traits humans hold dear.

From ice-sliding bison and tail-biting platypuses to cats and bats, hedgehogs and hooded seals, I, Mammal will change the way you think about hairy, milk-making, warm-blooded animals (yourself included). This carnival of mammals is science writing at its most funny, companionable and smart.

Helen Scales, marine biologist, broadcaster and author of Spirals in Time.

Not only fun and instructive but also wonderfully written, I, Mammal takes us on an erudite journey through mammalian evolution. Liam Drew effortlessly weaves science together with all manner of often very funny anecdotes. Reading it will be a pleasure for scientists and non-specialists alike.” 

René Hen, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry, Columbia University.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Radio And Podcast

Talking mammals with Jonathan Capehart on WNYC-NPR


And with Neil Denny at Little Atoms



To order now:





More Reviews

Science "I, Mammal: The Story of What Makes Us Mammals, stands out as a clear, conversational (sometimes to a fault), and engaging work that is especially good at explaining how evolutionary biology works. [...] engaging and entertaining [...] I, Mammal is just the sort of book that can spark a love of nature and an appreciation for the ever-changing, eternally correcting march of science." http://blogs.sciencemag.org/books/2018/01/08/i-mammal/

Nature: " As former neurobiologist Liam Drew reminds us in this splendid evolutionary study, humans belong to an exclusive club, along with aardvarks and bumblebee bats. Mammalia, a vertebrate class 210 million years old, boasts more than 5,000 species with intriguing traits such as mammary glands. Drew is a wry guide to wonders such as the evolution of the scrotum and the epic journey of marsupial newborns. But, at heart, his is an erudite analysis of organisms as “Russian dolls of biological identity”, whose ancient, intricate lineages make any extinction all the grimmer. " https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-017-07526-9

The Biologist: "Quotable, heartfelt and frequently fun [...]  I know I am just one of many who are forever fascinated by the incredible diversity and ingenuity of the natural world, but I challenge anyone to read this book and not think such fascination, no matter how widespread, is wholly merited."  https://thebiologist.rsb.org.uk/biologist-book-reviews/161-biologist/book-reviews/1984-i-mammal-the-story-of-what-makes-us-mammals

Publishers Weekly: “With wit and passion, Drew explores what it means to be a mammal by taking an evolutionary look at how and where mammals arose. [...] Drew vividly conveys the excitement of scientific discovery, reminding readers that there is much yet to be uncovered. He combines detailed technical information with interesting natural-history tidbits, […] He also niftily connects his personal experiences of fatherhood to the broader issue of animal reproduction. There’s much here to be savored by scientists and nonscientists alike."      https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4729-2289-2

The Booklist: STARRED Review "The birth of his daughter sent neurobiologist Drew an important message. For 20 years, he had studied biology, and only with her arrival did he realize that he was biology. [...] In his highly readable and anecdotal style, [...] Drew’s immersion makes one proud to be a mammal."  https://www.booklistonline.com/I-Mammal-The-Story-of-What-Makes-Us-Mammals-Liam-Drew/pid=9193119

Brian Clegg, Popular Science: FIVE Star Review, " It's rare that a straightforward biology book really grabs my attention, but this one did. Liam Drew really piles in the surprising facts and draws us a wonderful picture of the various aspects of mammals that make them different from other animals. [...]  Another delightful feature that recurs through the book is the duck billed platypus [...] the more you read about the platypus, the more you love it. [...]  this is a brilliant book, particularly if, like me, you know relatively little of biology or what makes mammals, erm, mammals. It's light enough to be enjoyable but detailed enough to satisfy the most fact-driven reader. Recommended." http://popsciencebooks.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/i-mammal-liam-drew.html

BookPage "Skillfully weaving scientific fact with beautiful prose and humor, I, Mammal is a compelling narrative for anyone who wants to discover more about what makes us tick."  https://bookpage.com/reviews/22170-liam-drew-i-mammal#.WnnUXEx2ucw

The Biochemist “A most entertaining series of stories […] The book is thoughtful, comprehensive and sometimes a little surprising. It is highly recommended to anyone interested in our place in the natural world.” http://www.portlandpresspublishing.com/sites/default/files/biochemist/BioAUG18_All%28Web%29.pdf

The Countryman "What makes a mammal a mammal? This apparently simple question is tackled with humour and erudition by @liamjdrew in his new book ‘I, Mammal’ as he celebrates the wondrous if sometimes peculiar story of our mammalian-ness.."

Mark Miodownik, "A terrific book"

Shelf Awareness: "Liam Drew's first book, I, Mammal: The Story of What Makes Us Mammals, is an infectiously enthusiastic introduction to mammalian biology. Drew takes the reader along on an idiosyncratic survey of the various attributes and unusual physical features--live birth and the scrotum, for example--that, taken together, help to define why mammals are mammals." http://www.shelf-awareness.com/readers-issue.html?issue=687#m12065

Sanctuary Asia “Chapter by chapter, the focus shifts from one mammalian trait to another, as Drew traces the trajectory of their development, and embellishes it with interesting facts and trivia. […] The world needs more science writers to bridge the gap between science and lay persons. And books like I, Mammal are a good way to do that. In celebration of being a mammal, read this book.” http://www.sanctuaryasia.com/conservation/reviews/book-reviews/10846-i-mammal-the-story-of-what-makes-us-mammalsby-liam-drew.html

How It Works: "An excellent combination of scientific principle and comedic wit that will appeal to biology fans and non-scientists alike. An excellent read."


Here's me talking to Kat Arney of Naked Genetics about the book: https://www.thenakedscientists.com/podcasts/naked-genetics/evolutions-luxury-item.

And to Jesse Mulligan on Radio New Zealnd: https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/2018621600/what-makes-us-mammals

And a print interview with Brian Clegg: