Planet of the Bugs (häftad)
Häftad (Paperback / softback)
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University of Chicago Press
226 x 150 x 15 mm
363 g
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Planet of the Bugs (häftad)

Planet of the Bugs

Evolution and the Rise of Insects

Häftad Engelska, 2015-10-27
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Dinosaurs, however toothy, did not rule the earth-and neither do humans. But what were and are the true potentates of our planet? Insects, says Scott Richard Shaw-millions and millions of insect species. Starting in the shallow oceans of ancient Earth and ending in the far reaches of outer space-where, Shaw proposes, insect-like aliens may have achieved similar preeminence-Planet of the Bugs spins a sweeping account of insects' evolution from humble arthropod ancestors into the bugs we know and love (or fear and hate) today. Leaving no stone unturned, Shaw explores how evolutionary innovations such as small body size, wings, metamorphosis, and parasitic behavior have enabled insects to disperse widely, occupy increasingly narrow niches, and survive global catastrophes in their rise to dominance. Through buggy tales by turns bizarre and comical-from caddisflies that construct portable houses or weave silken aquatic nets to trap floating debris, to parasitic wasp larvae that develop in the blood of host insects and, by storing waste products in their rear ends, are able to postpone defecation until after they emerge-he not only unearths how changes in our planet's geology, flora, and fauna contributed to insects' success, but also how, in return, insects came to shape terrestrial ecosystems and amplify biodiversity. Indeed, in his visits to hyperdiverse rain forests to highlight the current insect extinction crisis, Shaw reaffirms just how crucial these tiny beings are to planetary health and human survival. In this age of honeybee die-offs and bedbugs hitching rides in the spines of library books, Planet of the Bugs charms with humor, affection, and insight into the world's six-legged creatures, revealing an essential importance that resonates across time and space.
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"[One of] the best popular science books of 2014: biological sciences."--GrrlScientist "Guardian" "A detailed and intriguing journey through the evolution of insects, following their development from single-celled organisms through to the elaborate and fascinating beasts that now dominate almost every niche on the planet. Shaw writes in an engaging style that is almost that of thinking out loud, conversing with his reader much as he presumably would over a cup of coffee, and he makes evolution a tangible process, exposing some of the more peculiar and less well-known features of our six-legged relatives."--Michelle Harvey "Deakin University, Australia" "A fascinating peek under the mantle of the 'known world, ' revealing a minute, clicking-and-whirring mechanism manned largely by bugs. I learned SO much from this book."--Daniella Martin "author of Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects" "A very interesting and entertaining account of the dominant life from on this planet with many thought-provoking ideas. So step outside your comfort zone and buy it."--John Badmin "British Journal of Entomology and Natural History" "Accessible and entertaining . . . . Shaw's unusual perspective on life can be delightfully askew: why, he asks, do we give our loved ones flowers instead of stink bugs, when many of the latter are just as colourful and sweet-smelling? Overall, readers should come away with a deeper appreciation of insect diversity, and a fresh regard for evolution's sweep."--Bob Holmes "New Scientist" "Behind the witty prose lies a serious message. The triumph of insects is inseparably connected to the success and progression of almost all life on the planet in some way or another. Insects have coevolved with plants and animals and can act as friend or foe, spanning all lifestyles from predator to parasite to pollinator. So entangled are they in the fate of many cornerstone species that the decline of insect groups has put many ecosystems at risk of collapse, including several that are crucial for human survival. We may be somewhat flippant about their influence on our own evolutionary history, but we can be sure that the demise of insects would have catastrophic consequences for our future. . . . Eloquent and very knowledgeable, Shaw is also, perhaps more importantly when it comes to a good read, a storyteller capable of painting a rich portrayal of prehistoric lands filled with weird and wonderful bugs and beasts. His captivating and comical writing had me marveling at detailed accounts of giant dragonfly-like beasts with two-foot wingspans, and laughing out loud at aptly named sections such as 'Secretive societies with an anal fixation.' I am not, it is fair to say, a lover of things that creep and crawl, but looking through Shaw's eyes, I found myself appreciating their place in my world a little more. Moreover, as he made me realize, it is not my world at all, but theirs."--Tiffany Taylor, University of Reading "Times Higher Education" "Charting a somewhat different course from that of more conventional books on insects, Shaw takes readers on a grand tour through the vast expanse of geologic time. From the beginnings of life on Earth through modern times, he outlines the origin and evolution of major taxonomic groups as chronicled in the fossil record. . . . The book stresses their global importance as drivers of evolutionary change in a wide array of plants and animals. . . . Recommended."--GrrlScientist "Choice" "Entertainingly written and fascinating. . . . Shaw has produced a highly enjoyable and educational book that should appeal to a broad array of general readers as well as entomologists. . . . A triumph of scientific explanation for the general public. I do hope Shaw will be able to produce an updated version in the coming years; I, for one, will be eager to re

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Scott Richard Shaw is professor of entomology and Insect Museum curator at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. He has discovered more than one hundred and fifty insect species, including a number of parasitic wasps named after cultural icons such as David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Ellen DeGeneres, and Shakira the last of which, Aleiodes shakirae, causes its host caterpillar to contort as if belly dancing.