The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar: Evolution's Most Unbelievable Solutions to Life's Biggest Problems

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“A bizarre collection of evolution tales . . . the weirder, the better.” —Entertainment Weekly

A fascinating exploration of the awe-inspiring, unsettling ingenuity of evolution from Wired writer Matt Simon, author of Plight of the Living Dead (coming soon from Penguin Books)


On a barren seafloor, the pearlfish swims into the safety of a sea cucumber’s 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.

Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award
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About the author

Matt Simon is a science writer at Wired magazine, where he specializes in zoology, particularly of the bizarre variety. He is one of just a handful of humans to witness the fabled mating ritual of the axolotl salamander, as is detailed in this here book that he suggests you buy.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Oct 25, 2016
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780698411258
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Animals / General
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Fast on the heels of the New York Times bestseller The Book of General Ignorance comes The Book of Animal Ignorance, a fun, fact-filled bestiary that is sure to delight animal lovers everywhere. Arranged alphabetically from aardvark to worm, here are one hundred of the most interesting members of the animal kingdom explained, dissected, and illustrated, with the trademark wit and wisdom of John Lloyd and John Mitchinson.

Did you know, for instance, that
• when a young albatross takes wing, it may stay aloft for ten years
• vampire bat saliva—unsurprisingly, when you think about it—is the source of the world’s most powerful blood thinning drug, appropriately called draculin
• bombardier beetles fire a boiling chemical spray out of their rears at 300 pulses per second
• a bald eagle’s feathers weigh twice as much as its bones
• a giant tortoise recently died at the documented age of 255
• octopuses are dexterous enough to unscrew tops from jars
• spider silk is so light that a strand long enough to circle the world would weigh as much as a bar of soap?

So meet the water bears that can live in suspension for hundreds of years, the parasite carried by your cat that makes men grumpy and women promiscuous, and the woodlouse that drinks through its bottom. Marvel at elephants that walk on tiptoe, pigs that shine in the dark, and woodpeckers that have ears on the ends of their tongues.

If you still think a pangolin is a musical instrument, that hyenas are dogs, or that sheep are pointless and stupid, The Book of Animal Ignorance has arrived just in time.
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