The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar

The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar

Evolution's Most Unbelievable Solutions to Life's Biggest Problems

Book - 2016
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"On a barren seafloor, the pearlfish swims into the safety of a sea cucumbers anus. To find a meal, the female bolas spider releases pheromones that mimic a female moth, luring male moths into her sticky lasso web. The Glyptapanteles wasp injects a caterpillar with her young, which feed on the victim, erupt out of it, then mind-control the poor (and somehow still living) schmuck into protecting them from predators. These are among the curious critters of The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar, a jaunt through evolution's most unbelievable, most ingenious solutions to the problems of everyday life, from trying to get laid to finding food. Join Wired science writer Matt Simon as he introduces you to the creatures that have it figured out, the ones that joust with their mustaches or choke sharks to death with snot, all in a wild struggle to survive and, of course, find true love."--Amazon.com.
Contents: You absolutely must get laid. Antechinus ; Anglerfish ; Flatworm ; Mustache toad ; Toadfish
You can't find a babysitter. Ant-decapitating fly ; Glyptapanteles wasp ; Asp caterpillar ; Ocean sunfish ; Lowland streaked tenrec ; Surinam toad
You need a place to crash. Pearlfish ; Tongue-eating isopod ; Pistol shrimp ; Sociable weaver ; Hero ant
You live in a crummy neighborhood. Water bear ; Diving bell spider ; Zombie ant ; Pink fairy armadillo ; Naked mole rat
Turns out getting eaten is bad for survival. Hagfish ; Axolotl ; Cuttlefish ; Satanic leaf-tailed gecko ; Pangolin ; Crested rat
It turns out not eating is also bad for survival. Giant African land snail ; Aye-aye ; Mantis shrimp ; Bone-eating worm ; Tiger beetle
You can't let them get away that easily, can you?. Bolas spider ; Velvet worm ; Geography cone snail ; Lamprey ; Assassin bug
A few parting words
Publisher: New York, New York : Penguin Books, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
Branch Call Number: 578.47 S
Characteristics: xii, 260 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
ISBN: 9780143128687
014312868X

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SkokieStaff_Steven Nov 20, 2017

I admit to a weakness for books like “Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom” that showcase charming stories of animals chumming around with animals of other species, such as a rhino with a goat or a cat with a rat. (One wonders how the cat explains this aberrant beha... Read More »


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SkokieStaff_Steven Nov 20, 2017

I admit to a weakness for books like “Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom” that showcase charming stories of animals chumming around with animals of other species, such as a rhino with a goat or a cat with a rat. (One wonders how the cat explains this aberrant behavior to his fellow cats. I am reminded of Woody Allen’s quip that the lion shall lay down with the lamb, but the lamb won’t get much sleep.) Such accounts, while heartwarming, do not represent the norm in the animal world as is clear from Matt Simon’s “The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar: Evolution's Most Unbelievable Solutions to Life's Biggest Problems.” Simon describes 36 animals and one very clever fungus who either behave, well, beastly to their fellow creatures (the Ant-Decapitating Fly, the Tongue-Eating Isopod) or who simply go about their daily business while being exceedingly weird (the Moustache Toad, the Pink Fairy Armadillo). I especially relished Simon’s account of the Pearlfish who swims up a Sea Cucumber’s anus and eats its gonads, and his description of the Assassin Bug, bizarrely bedecked with the desiccated corpses of its insect prey, as resembling “a macabre Santa with a sack of the worst presents a kid could ever ask for.” While Simon does include some basic information about evolution in his book, it is best enjoyed as a very amusing, all-animal edition of Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

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