Planet of the Bugs

Planet of the Bugs

Evolution and the Rise of Insects

Book - 2014
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Dinosaurs, however toothy, did not rule the earth--and neither do humans. But what were and are the true potentates of our planet? Insects, says Scott Richard Shaw-- millions and millions of insect species. Starting in the shallow oceans of ancient Earth and ending in the far reaches of outer space--where, Shaw proposes, insect-like aliens may have achieved similar preeminence-- Planet of the Bugs spins a sweeping account of insects' evolution from humble arthropod ancestors into the bugs we know and love (or fear and hate) today.

Leaving no stone unturned, Shaw explores how evolutionary innovations such as small body size, wings, metamorphosis, and parasitic behavior have enabled insects to disperse widely, occupy increasingly narrow niches, and survive global catastrophes in their rise to dominance. Through buggy tales by turns bizarre and comical--from caddisflies that construct portable houses or weave silken aquatic nets to trap floating debris, to parasitic wasp larvae that develop in the blood of host insects and, by storing waste products in their rear ends, are able to postpone defecation until after they emerge--he not only unearths how changes in our planet's geology, flora, and fauna contributed to insects' success, but also how, in return, insects came to shape terrestrial ecosystems and amplify biodiversity. Indeed, in his visits to hyperdiverse rain forests to highlight the current insect extinction crisis, Shaw reaffirms just how crucial these tiny beings are to planetary health and human survival.

In this age of honeybee die-offs and bedbugs hitching rides in the spines of library books, Planet of the Bugs charms with humor, affection, and insight into the world's six-legged creatures, revealing an essential importance that resonates across time and space.
Publisher: Chicago :, The University of Chicago Press,, 2014.
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780226163611
022616361X
Characteristics: xiv, 240 pages : illustrations (some colour)

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RichardKicksee
Oct 02, 2016

I enjoy any book that expands my knowledge and convinces me to change my perspective or views. This book made me realize the vital role that insects have played, and continue to play, in the maintenance and evolution of life on Earth. A fascinating and accessible read.

ChristchurchLib Dec 04, 2014

Ever since the debut of their common ancestor during the Cambrian period (541 million years ago), a striking specimen that sported the first-ever exoskeleton and jointed limbs, insects have been on an evolutionary roll. Currently, there are more than one million distinct named species of insect living on Earth, and an estimated tens of millions awaiting discovery out in the wild. Armchair entomologists will be delighted by this grand tour of the insect world, although bug-averse readers may be tempted to stock up on insecticide. Nature and Science December 2014 newsletter.

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RichardKicksee
Oct 28, 2016

RichardKicksee thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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