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Evolutionary Wars: The Battle of Species on…

Evolutionary Wars: The Battle of Species on Land, at Sea, and in the Air

by Charles Kingsley Levy

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I don't generally like books on evolutionary biology. Though I can't imagine why anyone would still consider evolution a 'theory' with all the hard science that now backs it up, I don't like reading the books because they are often filled with presumptuous, fill-in-the-blank science. The fossil record, though it has given us tremendous insight, is filled with holes and is very incomplete. I strongly oppose scientists that take limited information and 'invent' science using nothing other than their own imagination. This just doesn't do it for me, and it always seems to be the most common with evolutionary biology.

So why did I read Evolutionary Wars? Well, because the cover caught my eye and it had lots of cool pictures in it! ...no, really, that's the reason...

The book examines predator/prey behavior and details how they have evolved to be the intricate creatures that they are. Fortunately, the evolutionary biology is kept to a minimum, this book functions much better as a nature science book with an evolutionary introduction. It's filled with hard, observable science taken from the animal kingdom, and it was very fun to read!

Surprisingly, the book was one of those that was constantly inspiring my imagination. For example, I was elated to learn that a hermit crab that, being immune to the poisons of a stationary jellyfish-like Anemones, adorns its shell with it and uses it both as potent and dangerous defensive weapon. The book was filled with these "Oooooh, neat!" moments that I absolutely relish when reading books on subjects like this.

While the evolutionary biology aspects of the book had me tearing my hair out from time to time, the nature science was fascinating and made the book well worth suffering through the occasional assumption. Yes, the author has a tendency to repeat himself and the first 40 or so pages are very skippable, but ultimately I really enjoyed the book. It took some patience on my part in the beginning and I nearly quit on it about 30 pages in, but I'm so glad I powered through it as it lead to a very satisfying and enlightening read. ( )
1 vote Ape | Jun 28, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0716737752, Paperback)

It is an airborne death machine, capable of taking off backward, accelerating in a fraction of a second, making unbanked turns or even a somersault at full speed, and stopping on a dime in mid-air. It's able to lift double its own weight, and is capable of making up to 400 kills a day. No, it's not the Pentagon's newest high-tech helicopter, but a dragonfly.

This winged warrior is just one of the many battle-scarred creatures that fly, swim, and walk through the pages of Evolutionary Wars, an extensively illustrated guide to nature's most ingenious means of attack and defense. Here on the front lines of the war of natural selection, early warning systems, sonar, stealth technology, chemical agents, and deadly weapons clash in the ultimate Darwinian struggle for superiority and survival. Participants include whales that can blast ultrasonic sound intense enough to kill, frogs able to secret lethal toxins that attack the nervous system, lizards who distract predators by shedding a piece of tail that continues to wiggle, and, finally, the ultimate weapons system which no other species has been able to compete with-- the human brain.

From the earliest bacteria and viruses through parasites, plants, and fungi to all creatures great and small, Evolutionary Wars is the story of an arms race that's been raging in the air, on land, and at sea for the last three billion years. Full of fascinating facts and anecdotes, it is perfect reading for natural history buffs, science lovers, and armchair generals.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:35 -0400)

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