Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World

Marlene Zuk. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-15-101373-9
How is it that insects, with their robotic demeanor and stripped-down biological toolbox, are able to accomplish so many of the same functions that humans do? In this smart, engaging account of the social behavior (and yes, the sex lives) of ants, crickets, bees, and others, evolutionary biologist Zuk shows us that many of the things we think of as setting humans apart—personality, learning, language—aren't so extraordinary after all. With little more than a brittle exoskeleton and a few clusters of nerves, insects are able to take care of their young, tell one another about far-off places, make group decisions, and recognize distinct individuals, not just of their own species but of ours. In Zuk's breezy style, disquisitions on the mating habits of damselflies or the genetics of fruit flies are made surprisingly palatable—and they yield unexpected insights into human interactions. Zuk approaches her subject with such humor and enthusiasm for the intricacies of insect life, even bug-phobes will relish her account. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/23/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
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Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-547-54917-0
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