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A look inside the often hidden world of parasites turns the clock back to the beginning of life on Earth to answer key questions about these highly evolved and resilient life forms.
This “fact-filled and amusing trek through nature’s dark side” (Kirkus Reviews) reveals the fascinating, weird, and often perverted ways that Mother Nature fends only for herself. It may be a wonderful world, but as Dan Riskin (host of the Animal Planet’s TV show Monsters Inside Me) explains, it’s also a dangerous, disturbing, and disgusting one. At every turn, it seems, living things are trying to eat us, poison us, use our bodies as their homes, or have us spread their eggs. In Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You, Riskin is our tour guide through the natural world at its most gloriously ruthless. Using the seven deadly sins as a road map, Riskin offers dozens of jaw-dropping examples that illuminate how brutal nature can truly be. From slothful worms that hide in your body for up to thirty years to wrathful snails with poisonous harpoons that can kill you in less than five minutes to lustful ducks that have orgasms faster than you can blink, these fascinating accounts reveal the candid truth about “gentle” Mother Nature’s true colors. Riskin’s passion for the strange and his enthusiastic expertise bring Earth’s most fascinating fauna and flora into vivid focus. Through his adventures—which include sliding on his back through a thick soup of bat guano just to get face-to-face with a vampire bat, befriending a parasitic maggot that has taken root in his head, and coming to grips with having offspring of his own—Riskin makes unexpected discoveries not just about the world all around us but also about the ways this brutal world has shaped us as humans and what our responsibilities are to this terrible, wonderful planet we call home.
With the emergence of the new field of evolutionary developmental biology we are witnessing a renaissance of Darwin's insights 150 years after his On the Origin of Species. Thus far, the exciting findings from 'evo-devo' have only been trickling into college courses and into the domain of non-specialists. With its focus on the human organism, Quirks of Human Anatomy opens the floodgates by stating the arguments of evo-devo in plain English, and by offering a cornucopia of interesting case studies and examples. Its didactic value is enhanced by 24 schematic diagrams that integrate a host of disparate observations, by its Socratic question-and-answer format, and by its unprecedented compilation of the literature. By framing the 'hows' of development in terms of the 'whys' of evolution, it lets readers probe the deepest questions of biology. Readers will find the book educational and enjoyable, as it revels in the fun of scientific exploration.
Originally published by Chipmunkapublishing, and now thoroughly revised, Assignment Yggdrasil is a groundbreaking novel about how far governments can go in the fight against bioterrorism. Set during the presidency of George W. Bush and the height of the War on Terror, the United States Department of Defense has secretly garnered intelligence confirming that, within a decade, groups intent on mass murder will possess bioweaponry capable of annihilating either the USA…or the entire human species. A special operation, Assignment Yggdrasil, has begun in an attempt to avert the so–called ‘Ragnarok,’ doomsday. Although they appear human, subjects have been genetically converted from human to transhuman, given immunity to all biological pathogens known to infect humans, as well as special abilities from other species. Only the new species, the transhuman, is predicted to survive the bioterrorist Ragnarok. The government has staked its bets on these transhumans, hoping they will rebuild American democracy in the resulting chaos. Yet the government is performing this transhumanism covertly, infecting thousands of citizens with the virus through their food, drink, and medicine. Some test subjects have died unwittingly under experimentation and the government is hiding everything. An equally furtive resistance has formed, led by various radical groups who dispute the bioethics of the operation. In a precarious showdown with the government, the rebels question whether the removal of humanity is really a gift and if the end justifies the means.
“What would it take to create a world in which fantasy is not confused for fact and public policy is based on objective reality?" asks Neil deGrasse Tyson, science popularizer and author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. "I don't know for sure. But a good place to start would be for everyone on earth to read this book." Maybe you know someone who swears by the reliability of psychics or who is in regular contact with angels. Or perhaps you're trying to find a nice way of dissuading someone from wasting money on a homeopathy cure. Or you met someone at a party who insisted the Holocaust never happened or that no one ever walked on the moon. How do you find a gently persuasive way of steering people away from unfounded beliefs, bogus cures, conspiracy theories, and the like? This down-to-earth, entertaining exploration of commonly held extraordinary claims will help you set the record straight. The author, a veteran journalist, has not only surveyed a vast body of literature, but has also interviewed leading scientists, explored "the most haunted house in America," frolicked in the inviting waters of the Bermuda Triangle, and even talked to a "contrite Roswell alien." He is not out simply to debunk unfounded beliefs. Wherever possible, he presents alternative scientific explanations, which in most cases are even more fascinating than the wildest speculation. For example, stories about UFOs and alien abductions lack good evidence, but science gives us plenty of reasons to keep exploring outer space for evidence that life exists elsewhere in the vast universe. The proof for Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster may be nonexistent, but scientists are regularly discovering new species, some of which are truly stranger than fiction. Stressing the excitement of scientific discovery and the legitimate mysteries and wonder inherent in reality, this book invites readers to share the joys of rational thinking and the skeptical approach to evaluating our extraordinary world.

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