Built by Animals: The natural history of animal architecture Paperback – 29 Jan 2009
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Hansell has written a typically eloquent account of a fascinating manifestation of animal life. He seamlessly weaves scientific method and understanding into the observations of nature that so clearly have inspired him. (Maggie Reilly, Glasgow Natural History Society)
Chatty yet profoundly learned. (The Independent)
About the Author
Mike Hansell is Emeritus Professor of Animal Architecture at the University of Glasgow. He has published numerous books and research papers on aspects of animal architecture including Animal Architecture (OUP, 2005); Bird Nests and Construction Behaviour (CUP, 2000, Awarded the Royal Society of Edinburgh Neil Medal); and Animal Architecture and Building Behaviour (Longman, 1984).
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Top Customer Reviews
Animal building hasn't been a topic of intense study as the author frequently reminds us. However, he's good at demonstrating what we do know and what further work needs doing. He poses several good questions - how much of an animal's building skill is genetically inherited? How important to animals is the idea of standardised material [think "bricks" in human construction]? Which animals produce structures the equivalent of three times the size of any human office building? What planning steps are required for an orb spider to form its web? Finally, and what might be the most pertinent of all, what is a tool and is that what distinguishes human builders from the other animals?
As Hansell poses these questions, he goes on to show how some of the answers have been obtained. He explains the varieties of construction behaviour - how an African rat may have an extended burrow system with up to several hundred entries, for example. Logic demands this is an indication of a group endeavour, but the entire system is inhabited by one rat. We think birds intuitively construct complex nests from their first effort.Read more ›
An interesting issue this book provoked for me, is the one of human self-awareness and behaviour; how do we arrive rational descisions?
My one real criticism, contrary to another positive review, was that the author digresses a lot, which I felt actually interrupted the flow and coherence of the arguements.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very interesting book, especially as we have seen some of the beautiful nests made by birds in other countries.Published 16 months ago by lindo
I've not finished it yet but so far it's great! I have held back on the last star because I feel some of the data is a bit complex for the layman. Read morePublished on 11 Nov. 2012 by judith e gilbert
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