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The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar

The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar

Evolution's Most Unbelievable Solutions to Life's Biggest Problems

  • Author: Matt Simon
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • ISBN: 0698411250
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 272
  • View: 4560
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“A bizarre collection of evolution tales . . . the weirder, the better.” —Entertainment Weekly A fascinating exploration of the awe-inspiring, unsettling ingenuity of evolution On a barren seafloor, the pearlfish swims into the safety of a sea cucumber’s anus. To find a meal, the female bolas spider releases pheromones that mimic a female moth, luring male moths into her sticky lasso web. The Glyptapanteles wasp injects a caterpillar with her young, which feed on the victim, erupt out of it, then mind-control the poor (and somehow still living) schmuck into protecting them from predators. These are among the curious critters of The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar, a jaunt through evolution’s most unbelievable, most ingenious solutions to the problems of everyday life, from trying to get laid to finding food. Join Wired science writer Matt Simon as he introduces you to the creatures that have it figured out, the ones that joust with their mustaches or choke sharks to death with snot, all in a wild struggle to survive and, of course, find true love. Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award

Dark Banquet

Dark Banquet

Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures

  • Author: Bill Schutt
  • Publisher: Broadway Books
  • ISBN: 0307381137
  • Category: Nature
  • Page: 325
  • View: 866
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A look inside the world of animals that feed on blood, examining the ecological roles and life cycles of the vampire bat, leeches, ticks, mites, bedbugs, and a feared vampire fish known as the candiru.

The Sting of the Wild

The Sting of the Wild

  • Author: Justin O. Schmidt
  • Publisher: JHU Press
  • ISBN: 1421419297
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 280
  • View: 8235
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Entomologist Justin O. Schmidt is on a mission. Some say it’s a brave exploration, others shake their heads in disbelief. His goal? To compare the impacts of stinging insects on humans, mainly using himself as the gauge. In The Sting of the Wild, the colorful Dr. Schmidt takes us on a journey inside the lives of stinging insects, seeing the world through their eyes as well as his own. He explains how and why they attack and reveals the powerful punch they can deliver with a small venom gland and a "sting," the name for the apparatus that delivers the venom. We learn which insects are the worst to encounter and why some are barely worth considering. The Sting of the Wild includes the complete Schmidt Sting Pain Index, published here for the first time. In addition to a numerical ranking of the agony of each of the eighty-three stings he’s sampled so far (from below 1 to an excruciatingly painful 4), Schmidt describes them in prose worthy of a professional wine critic: "Looks deceive. Rich and full-bodied in appearance, but flavorless" and "Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel." Schmidt explains that, for some insects, stinging is used for hunting: small wasps, for example, can paralyze huge caterpillars and then lay their eggs inside so that their larvae can feast within. Others are used to kill competing insects, even members of their own species. Humans usually experience stings as defensive maneuvers used by insects to protect their nest mates. With colorful descriptions of each venom’s sensation and a story that leaves you tingling with awe, The Sting of the Wild’s one-of-a-kind style will fire your imagination.

Bees, Wasps, and Ants

Bees, Wasps, and Ants

The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Gardens

  • Author: Eric Grissell
  • Publisher: Timber Press
  • ISBN: 0881929883
  • Category: Gardening
  • Page: 335
  • View: 1362
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Explores the biology, importance of, and methods of encouragement of bees, wasps, and ants found in a garden.

Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers

Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers

  • Author: May Berenbaum
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • ISBN: 9780252060274
  • Category: Nature
  • Page: 254
  • View: 4832
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'Informative, interesting, humorous, and sparkling-this is the book to read if you want to learn about the world's most interesting animals (and, if you hate insects, it's the book that'll change your mind).' -Thomas Eisner, entomologist and naturalist cinematographer

What Bugged the Dinosaurs?

What Bugged the Dinosaurs?

Insects, Disease, and Death in the Cretaceous

  • Author: George Poinar Jr.,Roberta Poinar
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • ISBN: 1400835690
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 280
  • View: 8299
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Millions of years ago in the Cretaceous period, the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex--with its dagger-like teeth for tearing its prey to ribbons--was undoubtedly the fiercest carnivore to roam the Earth. Yet as What Bugged the Dinosaurs? reveals, T. rex was not the only killer. George and Roberta Poinar show how insects--from biting sand flies to disease-causing parasites--dominated life on the planet and played a significant role in the life and death of the dinosaurs. The Poinars bring the age of the dinosaurs marvelously to life. Analyzing exotic insects fossilized in Cretaceous amber at three major deposits in Lebanon, Burma, and Canada, they reconstruct the complex ecology of a hostile prehistoric world inhabited by voracious swarms of insects. The Poinars draw upon tantalizing new evidence from their amazing discoveries of disease-producing vertebrate pathogens in Cretaceous blood-sucking flies, as well as intestinal worms and protozoa found in fossilized dinosaur excrement, to provide a unique view of how insects infected with malaria, leishmania, and other pathogens, together with intestinal parasites, could have devastated dinosaur populations. A scientific adventure story from the authors whose research inspired Jurassic Park, What Bugged the Dinosaurs?? offers compelling evidence of how insects directly and indirectly contributed to the dinosaurs' demise.

Venomous

Venomous

How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry

  • Author: Christie Wilcox
  • Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • ISBN: 0374712212
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 256
  • View: 7764
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A thrilling tale of encounters with nature’s masters of biochemistry From the coasts of Indonesia to the rainforests of Peru, venomous animals are everywhere—and often lurking out of sight. Humans have feared them for centuries, long considering them the assassins and pariahs of the natural world. Now, in Venomous, the biologist Christie Wilcox investigates and illuminates the animals of our nightmares, arguing that they hold the keys to a deeper understanding of evolution, adaptation, and immunity. She reveals just how venoms function and what they do to the human body. With Wilcox as our guide, we encounter a jellyfish with tentacles covered in stinging cells that can kill humans in minutes; a two-inch caterpillar with toxic bristles that trigger hemorrhaging; and a stunning blue-ringed octopus capable of inducing total paralysis. How do these animals go about their deadly work? How did they develop such intricate, potent toxins? Wilcox takes us around the world and down to the cellular level to find out. Throughout her journey, Wilcox meets the intrepid scientists who risk their lives studying these lethal beasts, as well as “self-immunizers” who deliberately expose themselves to snakebites. Along the way, she puts her own life on the line, narrowly avoiding being envenomated herself. Drawing on her own research, Wilcox explains how venom scientists are untangling the mechanisms of some of our most devastating diseases, and reports on pharmacologists who are already exploiting venoms to produce lifesaving drugs. We discover that venomous creatures are in fact keystone species that play crucial roles in their ecosystems and ours—and for this alone, they ought to be protected and appreciated. Thrilling and surprising at every turn, Venomous will change everything you thought you knew about the planet’s most dangerous animals.

Every Patient Tells a Story

Every Patient Tells a Story

Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis

  • Author: Lisa Sanders
  • Publisher: Harmony
  • ISBN: 0767922476
  • Category: Medical
  • Page: 276
  • View: 3479
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A Yale School of Medicine physician, columnist for "Diagnosis," and technical advisor for the television show House shares the experiences of doctors facing complex medical mysteries in order to illustrate the art and science of diagnosis. Reprint. A New York Times extended-list bestseller.

Planet of the Bugs

Planet of the Bugs

Evolution and the Rise of Insects

  • Author: Scott Richard Shaw
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • ISBN: 022616361X
  • Category: Nature
  • Page: 240
  • View: 4221
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Chronicles the evolution of insects and explains how evolutionary innovations have enabled them to disperse widely, occupy narrow niches, and survive global catastrophes.

How to Create the Perfect Wife

How to Create the Perfect Wife

Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and his Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate

  • Author: Wendy Moore
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • ISBN: 0465065732
  • Category: History
  • Page: 360
  • View: 5651
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Thomas Day, an 18th-century British writer and radical, knew exactly the sort of woman he wanted to marry. Pure and virginal like an English country maid yet tough and hardy like a Spartan heroine, she would live with him in an isolated cottage, completely subservient to his whims. But after being rejected by a number of spirited young women, Day concluded that the perfect partner he envisioned simply did not exist in frivolous, fashion-obsessed Georgian society. Rather than conceding defeat and giving up his search for the woman of his dreams, however, Day set out to create her. So begins the extraordinary true story at the heart of How to Create the Perfect Wife, prize-winning historian Wendy Moore’s captivating tale of one man’s mission to groom his ideal mate. A few days after he turned twenty-one and inherited a large fortune, Day adopted two young orphans from the Foundling Hospital and, guided by the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the principles of the Enlightenment, attempted to teach them to be model wives. After six months he discarded one girl, calling her “invincibly stupid,” and focused his efforts on his remaining charge. He subjected her to a number of cruel trials—including dropping hot wax on her arms and firing pistols at her skirts—to test her resolve but the young woman, perhaps unsurprisingly, eventually rebelled against her domestic slavery. Day had hoped eventually to marry her, but his peculiar experiment inevitably backfired—though not before he had taken his theories about marriage, education, and femininity to shocking extremes. Stranger than fiction, blending tragedy and farce, How to Create the Perfect Wife is an engrossing tale of the radicalism—and deep contradictions—at the heart of the Enlightenment.

The Future of Life

The Future of Life

  • Author: Edward O. Wilson
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN: 0679768114
  • Category: Nature
  • Page: 229
  • View: 7166
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Calls for decisive action to save Earth's endangered biological heritage, profiling threatened animals and plants and offering a program based on economic, ethical, and religious ideals for preserving our biosphere.

Cannibalism

Cannibalism

A Perfectly Natural History

  • Author: Bill Schutt
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • ISBN: 1616207434
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 352
  • View: 2358
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“Surprising. Impressive. Cannibalism restores my faith in humanity.” —Sy Montgomery, The New York Times Book Review For centuries scientists have written off cannibalism as a bizarre phenomenon with little biological significance. Its presence in nature was dismissed as a desperate response to starvation or other life-threatening circumstances, and few spent time studying it. A taboo subject in our culture, the behavior was portrayed mostly through horror movies or tabloids sensationalizing the crimes of real-life flesh-eaters. But the true nature of cannibalism--the role it plays in evolution as well as human history--is even more intriguing (and more normal) than the misconceptions we’ve come to accept as fact. In Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History,zoologist Bill Schutt sets the record straight, debunking common myths and investigating our new understanding of cannibalism’s role in biology, anthropology, and history in the most fascinating account yet written on this complex topic. Schutt takes readers from Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains, where he wades through ponds full of tadpoles devouring their siblings, to the Sierra Nevadas, where he joins researchers who are shedding new light on what happened to the Donner Party--the most infamous episode of cannibalism in American history. He even meets with an expert on the preparation and consumption of human placenta (and, yes, it goes well with Chianti). Bringing together the latest cutting-edge science, Schutt answers questions such as why some amphibians consume their mother’s skin; why certain insects bite the heads off their partners after sex; why, up until the end of the twentieth century, Europeans regularly ate human body parts as medical curatives; and how cannibalism might be linked to the extinction of the Neanderthals. He takes us into the future as well, investigating whether, as climate change causes famine, disease, and overcrowding, we may see more outbreaks of cannibalism in many more species--including our own. Cannibalism places a perfectly natural occurrence into a vital new context and invites us to explore why it both enthralls and repels us.

Venom

Venom

The Secrets of Nature's Deadliest Weapon

  • Author: Ronald Jenner,Eivind Undheim
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution
  • ISBN: 1588344541
  • Category: Nature
  • Page: 208
  • View: 9712
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"The story of venom from ancient origins to modern medicinal use"--

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

A Novel

  • Author: Scott Stambach
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN: 1250081882
  • Category: Fiction
  • Page: 350
  • View: 618
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The Fault In Our Stars meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Seventeen-year-old Ivan Isaenko is a life-long resident of the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. For the most part, every day is exactly the same for Ivan, which is why he turns everything into a game, manipulating people and events around him for his own amusement. Until Polina arrives. She steals his books. She challenges his routine. The nurses like her. She is exquisite. Soon, he cannot help being drawn to her and the two forge a romance that is tenuous and beautiful and everything they never dared dream of. Before, he survived by being utterly detached from things and people. Now, Ivan wants something more: Ivan wants Polina to live.

The Tectonic Plates are Moving!

The Tectonic Plates are Moving!

  • Author: Roy Livermore
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • ISBN: 0191027693
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 528
  • View: 2829
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Plate tectonics is a revolutionary theory on a par with modern genetics. Yet, apart from the frequent use of clichés such as 'tectonic shift' by economists, journalists, and politicians, the science itself is rarely mentioned and poorly understood. This book explains modern plate tectonics in a non-technical manner, showing not only how it accounts for phenomena such as great earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, but also how it controls conditions at the Earth's surface, including global geography and climate. The book presents the advances that have been made since the establishment of plate tectonics in the 1960s, highlighting, on the 50th anniversary of the theory, the contributions of a small number of scientists who have never been widely recognized for their discoveries. Beginning with the publication of a short article in Nature by Vine and Matthews, the book traces the development of plate tectonics through two generations of the theory. First generation plate tectonics covers the exciting scientific revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, its heroes and its villains. The second generation includes the rapid expansions in sonar, satellite, and seismic technologies during the 1980s and 1990s that provided a truly global view of the plates and their motions, and an appreciation of the role of the plates within the Earth 'system'. The final chapter bring us to the cutting edge of the science, and the latest results from studies using technologies such as seismic tomography and high-pressure mineral physics to probe the deep interior. Ultimately, the book leads to the startling conclusion that, without plate tectonics, the Earth would be as lifeless as Venus.

Prime Mover

Prime Mover

A Natural History of Muscle

  • Author: Steven Vogel
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • ISBN: 9780393324631
  • Category: Science
  • Page: 370
  • View: 4245
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A fascinating introduction to the world of muscle explores the role this important tissue plays in a host of important tasks, from maintaining a heartbeat to hunting prey. Reprint.

They Never Said it

They Never Said it

A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions

  • Author: Paul F. Boller,John H. George
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand
  • ISBN: 0195064690
  • Category: Political Science
  • Page: 159
  • View: 9450
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Discusses hundreds of famous quotes, revealing who really said them, to whom they were falsely attributed, and how these attributions came about

The World is Blue

The World is Blue

How Our Fate and the Ocean's are One

  • Author: Sylvia A. Earle
  • Publisher: National Geographic Books
  • ISBN: 1426205414
  • Category: Nature
  • Page: 303
  • View: 4730
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Traces the oceanic changes that have taken place in the last half-century and why they are posing a global catastrophe, in a cautionary photographic report that conveys the author's impassioned call for responsible and renewable strategies to safeguard the planet's natural systems.

Animal Weapons

Animal Weapons

The Evolution of Battle

  • Author: Douglas J. Emlen
  • Publisher: Macmillan
  • ISBN: 0805094504
  • Category: Nature
  • Page: 288
  • View: 7626
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An exploration of the extreme weapons we see in the animal world—teeth, horns and claws—draws parallels to the way humans develop and employ our own weapons.

50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)

50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)

  • Author: Gever Tulley,Julie Spiegler
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • ISBN: 1101528559
  • Category: Family & Relationships
  • Page: 144
  • View: 1959
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An activity book about danger, safety, and the incredible world around us. In a time when children are too often coddled, 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) reminds readers that climbing trees is good for the soul, and that a pocket knife is not a weapon. Full of exciting ways children can explore the world around them, this book explains how to "Play with Fire" and "Taste Electricity" while learning about safety. With easy-to-follow instructions, it includes: • Activities, like walking a tightrope • Skills, like throwing a spear • Projects, like melting glass • Experiences, like sleeping in the wild Watch a Video