Simon Lailvaux


On his book Feats of Strength: How Evolution Shapes Animal Athletic Abilities

Cover Interview of March 05, 2019


I wrote this book in such a way that it is (hopefully) accessible to anyone with an interest in evolution, the animal world, or terrible Sylvester Stallone movies. Having said that, I did have a potential target audience in mind, and that is students who are considering or actively embarking upon graduate studies in ecology and evolution. There is more opportunity than ever to do really interesting and integrative research on performance and all of the areas that performance intersects with, and I would be pleased indeed if something in my book sparks the imagination of a young scientist searching for a dissertation topic. I even rigged the odds of this happening in my favor. Over the years I have filled a notebook with ideas for research projects that I will likely never get around to executing. Many of those ideas are dreadful, but several of the more lucid ones made their way into this book. So, there you have it: if you are interested in research questions that another scientist you’ve never heard of hasn’t bothered to follow up on, this book is for you!

However, I also very much hope that anyone who reads it, regardless of their background, goals, or interests, learns a little bit more about the natural world, about evolution, and about how and why we do science. It’s difficult to write something that will appeal to more than one audience, so in the end I just wrote something that appeals to me. I’m happy to say, this it does, even though all I can see when I open it now are problems and things I could have done better. With any luck, nobody else will notice them!