Ed Yong, author of An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us

by | Aug 24, 2022

Ed Yong—a science journalist, staff writer at The Atlantic, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for his coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and author, most recently of An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us—recounts the genesis of the new book, noting how it evolved from a suggestion his wife, Liz Neeley, made while they were chatting in a London café. Yong observes that, in the wake of the extensive reporting and research he did in preparing An Immense World, he ends up with a book featuring the exploration of the senses of a sweeping array of fauna, from critters that many people find off-putting, like spiders, to charismatic creatures, such as elephants. I point out that there’s at least one human animal that Yong spotlights for having developed one of the more rarefied animal senses—echolocation—which most people associate with bats and dolphins. But Yong chronicles how a man named Daniel Kish became blind shortly after birth, and taught himself how to use echolocation, clicking as he navigates around his home and neighborhood. Yong addresses umwelt, how the world is experienced by a specific animal, unlike the way another animal experiences the world—something of a “sensory bubble”–in what emerges in the book as an important motif. (At one point in our conversation, Yong refers to “a mosquito’s umwelt.”) We touch on anthropomorphism, mainly in that I wonder where he stood on it before starting work on An Immense World and in what ways his perspective shifted by the time he completed the book. We also discuss that, during the pandemic, Yong took a step frequently taken by many during that period: He got a dog…a Corgi puppy he named Typo. Given that Yong is a science journalist who’s written about animals and animal behavior for years—but never had an animal in his life—I wonder how adding Typo has influenced his work, and the new book. Probably best to listen to his answer, but suffice to say that Neeley/Yong household experienced the challenges common to those raising a puppy, yet Yong has clearly embraced all aspects of his canine companion—he’s certainly mindful of allowing the dog plenty of sniffing time—and Typo’s impact on the award-winning journalist seems substantial. (https://edyong.me) [Photo of Ed Yong by Urszula Soltys]

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Christina Holtz, the owner of Bay Paws Pet Resort—the Ybor City location of Bay Paws was slated to host a Clear The Shelters adoption event on Aug. 27—one of many such Clear The Shelters events taking place in August not just locally, but across the country. The one Holtz organized, she explained, was partly intended to showcase the newly-renovated Ybor location, but also to provide an opportunity for a handful of local rescues—including two dachshund organizations (Holtz is “a dachshund mom,” she noted)–to participate in this adoption event. Collectively, those rescues planned to have about 40 animals, including some puppies, available for adoption. Crucially, though, Holtz said that people who visit this Clear The Shelters iteration, and find an animal they’d like to take home, will not depart Bay Paws with that animal, still needing to fill out an application and other procedures (in some cases, including a home visit) depending on rescue’s standard adoption protocols. (https://www.baypaws.com, https://www.facebook.com/BayPawsPetResort, https://www.instagram.com/baypawsyborcity/)

COMEDY CORNER: Sean Patton’s “Emotional Peacock” (DS edit) (http://meseanpatton.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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