From Publishers Weekly
Hansell (Animal Architecture
), emeritus professor of animal architecture at the University of Glasgow, looks at termite nests, amoeba cases, caddis larvae traps and birds' nests and wonders how creatures with brains so much smaller and simpler than those of humans can create such complex structures. This methodical book discusses some of the intriguing scientific investigations that have been made into animal engineering, from the organization of social insects that work together to construct their nests to the impact of animal architecture on the environment. Hansell describes the biochemistry and mechanical properties of spiders' webs; computer models that simulate the building of nests by wasps; the mathematical models constructed by theoretical biologists to demonstrate how animals transmit information from generation to generation; and laboratory experiments showing that honey bees can learn and retain information about spatial relationships. This emphasis on precision is balanced by one carelessly undisciplined question when Hansell looks at the elaborately decorated structures male bower birds build to attract their mates and wonders whether it might be possible that nonhuman animals have the capacity to appreciate beauty. His engaging discussion provides ample reason to pursue the inquiry. B&w illus. (Dec.)
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"With a small midsection of color photos, the volume is a worthy read for anyone with even a slightly academic interest in the projects animals undertake."--The Green Life
"The book is a fascinating read, with personal anecdotes and reflections blending into thought-provoking explorations of the various themes."--J. Scott Turner, American Scientist
"When...does a giant golden digger wasp stop digging its burrow and start excavating the terminal chamber? Is it when she feels she has done enough work, or when the burrow is long enough? Hansell, an evolutionary biologist specialising in animal architecture, knows the answers and can tell a good story. Great stuff." -- ew Scientist
"This methodical book discusses some of the intriguing scientific investigations that have been made into animal engineering."--Publishers Weekly
"It is to the eternal credit and pride of humanity that scientists like Mike Hansell strive with insight and ingenuity to catalogue the wonders of the natural world and to convey their findings in such enthusiastic fashion to the rest of us blinkered anthropocentrics."--Discover
"This fascinating assemblage of the world's animal architects will fill a niche in all collections." --Booklist
"Unusual and fascinating." -- Publishing News
"The book is a fascinating read, with personal anecdotes and reflections blending into thought-provoking explorations of the various themes." -- American Scientist
"Recommended for general readers: lower-division undergraduates through graduate students." -- J. Burger, Choice
"Anyone with an interest in animal behavior will like this book."--Birdbooker Report