- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; New edition edition (4 Sept. 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099457997
- ISBN-13: 978-0099457992
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,247,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures Paperback – 4 Sep 2003
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More About the Author
Susan Adams"Forbes"Zimmer is such an accomplished, vivid writer that he is able to weave these revolting beasts into an engrossing story that you will read to the last page. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Inheritor of Stephen Jay Gould's column in Natural History, which he shares with Jared Diamond, Carl Zimmer is the author of Evolution and At The Water's Edge. He lives in New York City.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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Top Customer Reviews
While we may recoil at the term "parasite", Zimmer identifies but one villain in this book. Ray Lankester, a devoted Edwardian-era evolutionist, postulated that parasites were a "regressive" form of organism. He thought they shed evolutionary advantages as they simplified their bodies through their life cycles. Lankester thus set the tone for generations - biologists avoided studying parasites as offering no additional information revealing evolution's processes. Zimmer explains that since parasites are predators, it was thought they ought to follow the patterns of other predators - stalking prey like lions, or following scent gradients like sharks.
Instead, as more about them came to light, it was revealed how adaptive parasites are. Some, in fact, have developed the talent of making "prey" come to them. One fluke invades a snail early in its career. In an intermediate, but distinctive form, it then moves to an ant. Residing in the ant's brain, at some point it directs the ant to climb a grass stalk. There it waits for the grass, along with the ant and itself, to be eaten by a cow. The fluke cruises through the cow's stomach before taking up residence in the liver as adults, yet another body form.Read more ›
Zimmer explains how parasites came to be reviled; he describes a selection of species, their life cycles and the diseases they cause - sometimes using actual cases; he explains how they get into and manipulate their hosts (this is where you'll read some of the most astounding accounts that could out-weird any science fiction story); how their hosts fight back; how parasites have driven evolution by forcing their hosts into an 'arms race'; and how we should, in some ways, try to be more like them (the more benign ones at least).Read more ›
The author resists the temptation to go for the "yuck factor" and writes about the subject matter in a thoughtful and considered manner. He introduces the reader to some of the parasitologists currently working in this particular discipline and shows how their work is revealing not only the complexity of the life cycles of many parasites but also how they may be vital for the well being of many ecosystems, how they have helped drive the evolution of their hosts and even how they may be, in some circumstances, beneficial to the immune systems of their hosts.
Overall, this is an excellent insight into this much overlooked area of biology that is really well written and very accessible. I studied parasitology briefly at university and had forgotten what a truly fascinating subject it is - thanks to Carl Zimmer for the reminder!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting book, I am past the half way point and I am enjoying it more and more. It can be a bit boring at times, but get past those bits and you will get a much better... Read morePublished 8 months ago by PeacefulWarrior
Written by some-one who knows his subject of parasitology in an easy style, full of information and giving food for thought - sometimes the parasites are beneficial in preventing... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Bill
my 12 year old son and i were listening to an episode on this american life when we heard zimmer discuss parasites. my son is a typical (? Read morePublished on 31 Dec. 2012 by amaraya
if this book was not such interesting reading on a thought provoking topic it would make the skin crawl - does make one wonderPublished on 5 Jan. 2012 by N. J. Powell
This is one of my favourite popsci books of all time. Zimmer is an excellent writer and doesn't fail with this one. Buy it or borrow it and read it! Love the pix as well :)Published on 25 May 2010 by Huxley
What these creatures can make their hosts do is amazing, after reading this book I started to wonder who is in charge! Read morePublished on 7 Feb. 2010 by Mr. P. M. Hasell