Author: Carl Zimmer
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2000-09-21
IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE parasites control the minds of their hosts, sending them to their destruction. IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE parasites are masters of chemical warfare and camouflage, able to cloak themselves with their hosts' own molecules. IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE parasites steer the course of evolution, where the majority of species are parasites. WELCOME TO EARTH. For centuries, parasites have lived in nightmares, horror stories, and in the darkest shadows of science. Yet these creatures are among the world's most successful and sophisticated organisms. In Parasite Rex, Carl Zimmer deftly balances the scientific and the disgusting as he takes readers on a fantastic voyage. Traveling from the steamy jungles of Costa Rica to the fetid parasite haven of southern Sudan, Zimmer graphically brings to life how parasites can change DNA, rewire the brain, make men more distrustful and women more outgoing, and turn hosts into the living dead. This thorough, gracefully written book brings parasites out into the open and uncovers what they can teach us about the most fundamental survival tactics in the universe.
Author: Carl Zimmer
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2003
"The bizarre and fascinating world of parasites, revealed by a leading science writer. Almost every animal will at some time or another become the home of a parasite. Not only are parasites the most successful life-forms on earth, they triggered the development of sex, shape, ecosystems, and have driven the engine of evolution. arl 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 proceeeds to eat everything but what the crab needs to put food in its mouth, which 'sacculina' then consumes. Single-celled 'toxoplasma 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. 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
Author: Dickson Despommier
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Release Date: 2013-07-16
An account of the biology, behavior, and history of parasites, following the interplay between these fascinating life forms and human society over thousands of years. Despommier focuses on long-term host-parasite associations, which have evolved to avoid or even subvert the human immune system.
Author: Robert S. Desowitz
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date: 1987
A medical ecologist examines the threat posed by disease-carrying parasites and insects and identifies the conditions--miracle drugs, destruction of natural controls--that have encouraged them to flourish
Author: David P. Hughes
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2012-06-07
Parasites that manipulate the behaviour of their hosts represent striking examples of adaptation by natural selection. This innovative text provides an up-to-date, authoritative, and challenging review of host manipulation by parasites that assesses the current state of developments in the field and lays out a framework for future research.
Author: Janice Moore
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2002-01-31
When a parasite invades an ant, does the ant behave like other ants? Maybe not-and if it doesn't, who, if anyone, benefits from the altered behaviors? The parasite? The ant? Parasites and the Behavior of Animals shows that parasite-induced behavioral alterations are more common than we might realize, and it places these alterations in an evolutionary and ecological context. Emphasizing eukaryotic parasites, the book examines the adaptive nature of behavioral changes associated with parasitism, exploring the effects of these changes on parasite transmission, parasite avoidance, and the fitness of both host and parasite. The behavioral changes and their effects are not always straightforward. To the extent that virulence, for instance, is linked to parasite transmission, the evolutionary interests of parasite and host will diverge, and the current winner of the contest to maximize reproductive rates may not be clear, or, for that matter, inevitable. Nonetheless, by affecting susceptibility, host/parasite lifespan and fecundity, and transmission itself, host behavior influences parameters that are basic to our comprehension of how parasites invade host populations, and fundamentally, how parasites evolve. Such an understanding is important for a wide range of scientists, from ecologists and parasitologists to evolutionary, conservation and behavioral biologists: The behavioral alterations that parasites induce can subtly and profoundly affect the distribution and abundance of animals.
A Best Book of the YearSeed Magazine • Granta Magazine • The Plain-DealerIn this fascinating and utterly engaging book, Carl Zimmer traces E. coli's pivotal role in the history of biology, from the discovery of DNA to the latest advances in biotechnology. He reveals the many surprising and alarming parallels between E. coli's life and our own. And he describes how E. coli changes in real time, revealing billions of years of history encoded within its genome. E. coli is also the most engineered species on Earth, and as scientists retool this microbe to produce life-saving drugs and clean fuel, they are discovering just how far the definition of life can be stretched. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Although Charles Darwin's theory of evolution laid the foundations of modern biology, it did not tell the whole story. Most remarkably, The Origin of Species said very little about, of all things, the origins of species. Darwin and his modern successors have shown very convincingly how inherited variations are naturally selected, but they leave unanswered how variant organisms come to be in the first place.In Symbiotic Planet, renowned scientist Lynn Margulis shows that symbiosis, which simply means members of different species living in physical contact with each other, is crucial to the origins of evolutionary novelty. Ranging from bacteria, the smallest kinds of life, to the largest—the living Earth itself—Margulis explains the symbiotic origins of many of evolution's most important innovations. The very cells we're made of started as symbiotic unions of different kinds of bacteria. Sex—and its inevitable corollary, death—arose when failed attempts at cannibalism resulted in seasonally repeated mergers of some of our tiniest ancestors. Dry land became forested only after symbioses of algae and fungi evolved into plants. Since all living things are bathed by the same waters and atmosphere, all the inhabitants of Earth belong to a symbiotic union. Gaia, the finely tuned largest ecosystem of the Earth's surface, is just symbiosis as seen from space. Along the way, Margulis describes her initiation into the world of science and the early steps in the present revolution in evolutionary biology; the importance of species classification for how we think about the living world; and the way “academic apartheid” can block scientific advancement. Written with enthusiasm and authority, this is a book that could change the way you view our living Earth.
Author: Richard Ostfeld
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2010-11-04
Most human diseases come from nature, from pathogens that live and breed in non-human animals and are "accidentally" transmitted to us. Human illness is only the culmination of a complex series of interactions among species in their natural habitats. To avoid exposure to these pathogens, we must understand which species are involved, what regulates their abundance, and how they interact. Lyme disease affects the lives of millions of people in the US, Europe, and Asia. It is the most frequently reported vector-borne disease in the United States; About 20,000 cases have been reported each year over the past five years, and tens of thousands more go unrecognized and unreported. Despite the epidemiological importance of understanding variable LD risk, such pursuit has been slow, indirect, and only partially successful, due in part to an overemphasis on identifying the small subset of 'key players' that contribute to Lyme disease risk, as well as a general misunderstanding of effective treatment options. This controversial book is a comprehensive, synthetic review of research on the ecology of Lyme disease in North America. It describes how humans get sick, why some years and places are so risky and others not. It challenges dogma - for instance, that risk is closely tied to the abundance of deer - and replaces it with a new understanding that embraces the complexity of species and their interactions. It describes why the place where Lyme disease emerged - coastal New England - set researchers on mistaken pathways. It shows how tiny acorns have enormous impacts on our probability of getting sick, why biodiversity is good for our health, why living next to a small woodlot is dangerous, and why Lyme disease is an excellent model system for understanding many other human and animal diseases. Intended for an audience of professional and student ecologists, epidemiologists, and other health scientists, it is written in an informal style accessible also to non-scientists interested in human health and conservation.
“Engrossing … [An] expedition through the hidden and sometimes horrifying microbial domain.” —Wall Street Journal “Fascinating—and full of the kind of factoids you can't wait to share.” —Scientific American Parasites can live only inside another animal and, as Kathleen McAuliffe reveals, these tiny organisms have many evolutionary motives for manipulating the behavior of their hosts. With astonishing precision, parasites can coax rats to approach cats, spiders to transform the patterns of their webs, and fish to draw the attention of birds that then swoop down to feast on them. We humans are hardly immune to their influence. Organisms we pick up from our own pets are strongly suspected of changing our personality traits and contributing to recklessness and impulsivity—even suicide. Germs that cause colds and the flu may alter our behavior even before symptoms become apparent. Parasites influence our species on the cultural level, too. Drawing on a huge body of research, McAuliffe argues that our dread of contamination is an evolved defense against parasites. The horror and revulsion we are programmed to feel when we come in contact with people who appear diseased or dirty helped pave the way for civilization, but may also be the basis for major divisions in societies that persist to this day. This Is Your Brain on Parasites is both a journey into cutting-edge science and a revelatory examination of what it means to be human. “If you’ve ever doubted the power of microbes to shape society and offer us a grander view of life, read on and find yourself duly impressed.” —Heather Havrilesky, Bookforum
Author: Christie Wilcox
Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: 2016-08-09
A thrilling tale of encounters with nature’s masters of biochemistry From the coasts of Indonesia to the rainforests of Peru, venomous animals are everywhere—and often lurking out of sight. Humans have feared them for centuries, long considering them the assassins and pariahs of the natural world. Now, in Venomous, the biologist Christie Wilcox investigates and illuminates the animals of our nightmares, arguing that they hold the keys to a deeper understanding of evolution, adaptation, and immunity. She reveals just how venoms function and what they do to the human body. With Wilcox as our guide, we encounter a jellyfish with tentacles covered in stinging cells that can kill humans in minutes; a two-inch caterpillar with toxic bristles that trigger hemorrhaging; and a stunning blue-ringed octopus capable of inducing total paralysis. How do these animals go about their deadly work? How did they develop such intricate, potent toxins? Wilcox takes us around the world and down to the cellular level to find out. Throughout her journey, Wilcox meets the intrepid scientists who risk their lives studying these lethal beasts, as well as “self-immunizers” who deliberately expose themselves to snakebites. Along the way, she puts her own life on the line, narrowly avoiding being envenomated herself. Drawing on her own research, Wilcox explains how venom scientists are untangling the mechanisms of some of our most devastating diseases, and reports on pharmacologists who are already exploiting venoms to produce lifesaving drugs. We discover that venomous creatures are in fact keystone species that play crucial roles in their ecosystems and ours—and for this alone, they ought to be protected and appreciated. Thrilling and surprising at every turn, Venomous will change everything you thought you knew about the planet’s most dangerous animals.
Author: Claude Combes
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Release Date: 2001
In Parasitism, Claude Combes explores the fascinating adaptations parasites have developed through their intimate interactions with their hosts. He begins with the biology of parasites—their life cycles, habitats, and different types of associations with their hosts. Next he discusses genetic interactions between hosts and parasites, and he ends with a section on the community ecology of parasites and their role in the evolution of their hosts. Throughout the book Combes enlivens his discussion with a wealth of concrete examples of host-parasite interactions.
Author: Carl Zimmer
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2014-08-26
Everybody Out of the Pond At the Water's Edge will change the way you think about your place in the world. The awesome journey of life's transformation from the first microbes 4 billion years ago to Homo sapiens today is an epic that we are only now beginning to grasp. Magnificent and bizarre, it is the story of how we got here, what we left behind, and what we brought with us. We all know about evolution, but it still seems absurd that our ancestors were fish. Darwin's idea of natural selection was the key to solving generation-to-generation evolution -- microevolution -- but it could only point us toward a complete explanation, still to come, of the engines of macroevolution, the transformation of body shapes across millions of years. Now, drawing on the latest fossil discoveries and breakthrough scientific analysis, Carl Zimmer reveals how macroevolution works. Escorting us along the trail of discovery up to the current dramatic research in paleontology, ecology, genetics, and embryology, Zimmer shows how scientists today are unveiling the secrets of life that biologists struggled with two centuries ago. In this book, you will find a dazzling, brash literary talent and a rigorous scientific sensibility gracefully brought together. Carl Zimmer provides a comprehensive, lucid, and authoritative answer to the mystery of how nature actually made itself.