- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Arrow; 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: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,256,073 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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The bizarre and ghoulishly fascinating world of parasites, revealed by the acclaimed author of Evolution.
Almost every animal will at some time or other become the home of a parasite. Not only are parasites the most sucessful life-forms on Earth, they triggered the development of sex, shape, ecosystems, and have driven the engine of evolution. Carl Zimmer describes the frightening and amazing ingenuity these commando invaders use to devour their hosts from the inside and control their behaviour. "Sacculina carcini" makes its home in an unlucky crab and proceeds to eat everything but what the crab needs to put food in its mouth, which "Sacculina" then consumes. Single-celled "Toxoplama gondi" has an even more insidious role, for it can invade the human brain and cause personality changes, making its host less afraid and more prone to danger and a violent end - so that, in the carnage, it will be able to move on to another host. Finally, Zimmer concludes that humankind itself is a new kind of parasite, one that preys on the entire earth. If we are to achieve the sophistication of the parasites on display here in vivid detail, if we are to promote the flourishing of life in all its diversity as they do, we must learn the ways nature lives with itself, the laws of "Parasite Rex".See all Product description
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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!
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