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Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle by…
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Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle

by Douglas J. Emlen, David J. Tuss (Illustrator)

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An interesting book that looks at the development of weapons from a biological perspective. Sites parallels using examples from the animal kingdom compared with human military history. Not something I had considered previously. I liked the book. ( )
  papyri | Aug 9, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Postulates and defends three criteria for arms races to escalate towards (proportionately) massive/extreme weapons: 1) Competition: for breeding rights - the longer it takes a female, or a male in rare cases, to incubate and raise the next generation then recoup - the more badass one has to be to prevail; 2) Economic Defensibility: if prime food and nesting materials exist in a limited area as opposed to being spread out over a large territory, it is advantageous to be able to first take and then protect a portion of this ideal terrain since the females are sure to come flocking; 3) Duels: if defensibility of this ideal terrain lends itself to one-on-one competition (i.e. a tunnel) then massive weapons are baller mainly because of their strong deterrence abilities (can't breed if you're dead) and of course their advantages during fights. Parallels are drawn bw examples throughout the animal kingdom and human military history. Also discusses the termination of an arms race: eventually the immense resources demanded by weaponry can't be supported and/or massive weaponry no longer ensures the advantage. My favorite example being the "sneaky male dung beetle" who burrows into the dominate male's tunnel via a side entrance whilst he's busy defending it from traditionally competitive males and goes to town. Delightful sketches throughout the book and a gloomy prophecy for humanity (weapons of mass destruction change the game, to no one's long term benefit). ( )
  dandelionroots | May 17, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers. Overall, I thought this book was excellent. Emlen had well thought-out points and was able to support all of the factors that precede and enable an arms race in the animal kingdom. It went a lot deeper into natural selection in regards to animal weapon development than I had considered before. It was fascinating to learn about some long extinct animals (hello saber-tooth tiger on the cover). I think some of the ties were a little stretched in the human section, however. I think Emlen would have been better served having a case study and making his points within the case study. While he does write about The Cold War, it's within the last 5-10 pages of the book. It does end in a rather depressing fashion about how humanity isn't likely to survive another arms race because of how The Cold War made biological weapons and weapons of mass destruction inexpensive and easy to obtain for smaller nations. Sadly, I believe his hypothesis is likely to be true. ( )
  sisteroftheagiel | Feb 7, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What’s a product of Quaker heritage to do when he finds himself fascinated by the structural oddities that animals develop for defense and attack? Also arrowheads. This one had a biologist grandfather and a biologist father and a childhood of field expeditions to the tropics, so he took up the profession with a specialty in animal weapons as seen in dung beetles. I requested this ER because of the evolution aspect; I’m not exactly enthusiastic about weapons. This though is a nicely arranged and amply illustrated book, and its relatively narrow focus allows the author to stray into entertaining anecdotes without losing sight of the primary agenda. He begins with camouflage, passes through teeth and claws, then expounds on his topic of enthusiasm: the arms race of exotic protrusions ranging from subtle to ridiculous. The dung beetles are of interest because the bazillion (well, tens of thousands) species, some with disproportionate weapons and some without, can be studied with attention on the environmental and behavioral conditions that set body plan evolution along one path or another. Various other creatures make appearances too. Each chapter ends with a comparison to military weapons used for similar purposes, and the book ends with a section on fortresses, ships and airplanes, guns and bombs... I doubt that I would’ve stuck with a history of the AK-47 in any other context. Engaging and informative.

Interview with the author here: http://www.yourwildlife.org/2014/10/before-they-were-scientists-doug-emlen/ . ( )
  qebo | Dec 6, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Animal Weaponry is the perfect blend of animal design, defensive strategy and examples of humans using the same concepts from the animal world for our own benefits.
This book combines science, strategy and societal actions into an interesting read about how animals and humans protect themselves, attract mates and attempt to dominate others.
Animal Weaponry gives detailed information that can't be found anywhere else! ( )
  Cricket451 | Nov 9, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Emlen, Douglas J.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tuss, David J.Illustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
                                                      —Albert Einstein
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Preface
For as long as I can remember I've been obsessed with big weapons, which is rather surprising given that I descend from a long line of Quakers. On field trips to the natural history museum it wasn't birds or zebras that caught my eye; it was mastodons with curling tusks, or triceratops with five-foot-long horns. In every room, it seemed, loomed another species with a craxy protrusion jutting from its head, or from between the shoulder blades, or from the end of its tail. Gallic moose wielded twelve-foot-wide antlers, and arsinotheres had horns six feet long and a foot wide at the base. I couldn't peel my eyes from these creatures. Why were their weapons so big?
Extremes
It was a cold, clear mountain night. The Milky Way streaked across the sky; jagged peaks loomed black against the starlight. A college buddy of mine and I were camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was early fall—peak of the rut for elk. I'd insisted we take the most remote campsite possible, and we'd pitched our tent as far away from the rest as we thought we could get away with. I wanted to be surrounded by aspen and cottonwood, not other people.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805094504, Hardcover)

The story behind the stunning, extreme weapons we see in the animal world—teeth and horns and claws—and what they can tell us about the way humans develop and use arms and other weapons

In Animal Weapons, Doug Emlen takes us outside the lab and deep into the forests and jungles where he’s been studying animal weapons in nature for years, to explain the processes behind the most intriguing and curious examples of extreme animal weapons—fish with mouths larger than their bodies and bugs whose heads are so packed with muscle they don’t have room for eyes. As singular and strange as some of the weapons we encounter on these pages are, we learn that similar factors set their evolution in motion. Emlen uses these patterns to draw parallels to the way we humans develop and employ our own weapons, and have since battle began. He looks at everything from our armor and camouflage to the evolution of the rifle and the structures human populations have built across different regions and eras to protect their homes and communities. With stunning black and white drawings and gorgeous color illustrations of these concepts at work, Animal Weapons brings us the complete story of how weapons reach their most outsized, dramatic potential, and what the results we witness in the animal world can tell us about our own relationship with weapons of all kinds. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:31 -0400)

"The story behind the stunning, extreme weapons we see in the animal world--teeth and horns and claws--and what they can tell us about the way humans develop and use arms and other weapons. In Animal Weapons, Doug Emlen takes us outside the lab and deep into the forests and jungles where he's been studying animal weapons in nature for years, to explain the processes behind the most intriguing and curious examples of extreme animal weapons--fish with mouths larger than their bodies and bugs whose heads are so packed with muscle they don't have room for eyes. As singular and strange as some of the weapons we encounter on these pages are, we learn that similar factors set their evolution in motion. Emlen uses these patterns to draw parallels to the way we humans develop and employ our own weapons, and have since battle began. He looks at everything from our armor and camouflage to the evolution of the rifle and the structures human populations have built across different regions and eras to protect their homes and communities. With stunning black and white drawings and gorgeous color illustrations of these concepts at work, Animal Weapons brings us the complete story of how weapons reach their most outsized, dramatic potential, and what the results we witness in the animal world can tell us about our own relationship with weapons of all kinds."… (more)

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