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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
"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."--Publisher marketing.
For fans of WHAT IF? and NEW SCIENTIST comes Matt Simon's THE WASP THAT BRAINWASHED THE CATERPILLAR, a brilliantly funny and informative look at the stranger side of evolution. Featuring: The Zombie ants mind-controlled by a fungus Beautiful salamanders that can regenerate any part of their bodies, including their brains The mantis shrimp, which fires its club-like appendage so fast that the surrounding water becomes as hot as the surface of the sun The Antechinus, whose runaway testosterone levels cause them to have so much sex during their three-week mating season that they bleed internally, go blind, and drop dead... Featuring quirky illustrations and the signature blend of science smarts and humour that make Matt Simon's Wired column so entertaining, this is an ideal stocking-filler for every popular science aficionado...
'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
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.
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.
Chronicles the evolution of insects and explains how evolutionary innovations have enabled them to disperse widely, occupy narrow niches, and survive global catastrophes.

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