Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: Sex on Six Legs

sex on six legs

From Goodreads:

Insects have inspired fear, fascination, and enlightenment for centuries. They are capable of incredibly complex behavior, even with brains often the size of a poppy seed. How do they accomplish feats that look like human activity— personality, language, childcare—with completely different pathways from our own? What is going on inside the mind of those ants that march like boot-camp graduates across your kitchen floor? How does the lead ant know exactly where to take his colony, to that one bread crumb that your nightly sweep missed? Can insects be taught new skills as easily as your new puppy? 

Sex on Six Legs is a startling and exciting book that provides answers to these questions and many more. With the humor of Olivia Judson’s Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, Zuk not only examines the bedroom lives of creepy crawlies but also calls into question some of our own longheld assumptions about learning, the nature of personality, and what our own large brains might be for.

My Review: I have to admit  when I saw this at the library it was the title that drew me in. My first thought was sex life of insects? Who would write a book on such things? Then I picked it up and saw that it compared human processes and insects process and was hooked.

I never thought of insects as having any redeeming qualities. I see one and I stomp on it. This book opened my eyes. It described how insects can be social and how they communicate various things. For example, wasp can tell when another wasp not of its nest intrudes and will fight the intruder. What I found most fascinating was the fact that a researcher actually got a hold of a wasp and painted their faces to test this fact. I want to know how they do these sort of things without getting stung.

The biggest thing that the book does is to show that even though we think of humans has having special qualities and insects are nothing like us they are in fact. They do not have brains per se so everything boils down to neurons. We can see how neurons influence behavior and this in turn can lead us to discover more about humans and the why we act the way we do.

This was a fascinating book. I could not put it down, The author writes in a way where lay people can understand it. The author injects a sense of humor throughout the book that makes it a funny and delightful read.

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