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Life in the Undergrowth

by David Attenborough

ISBN 0691127034 / 9780691127033 / 0-691-12703-4
Publisher Princeton University Press
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

An insect disguises itself as a flower or leaf. A spider lassoes its prey. A beetle persuades a bee to care for its young. This beautifully illustrated book by veteran naturalist Sir David Attenborough offers a rare glimpse into the secret life of invertebrates, the world's tiniest--and most fascinating--creatures.

Small by virtue of their lack of backbones, this group of living things plays a surprisingly large role in the evolutionary cycle. These diverse creatures (more than one million species are believed to exist) roamed the earth before us and will still be here when we have gone. They are the pollinators, cleaners, and recyclers of life on earth. Without them, we would not last long.

Attenborough has studied and enjoyed these diminutive beings since he was a schoolboy in the Leicestershire countryside of England. Life in the Undergrowth, part of his innovative series on natural history topics, looks at invertebrates the world over: their arrival on land and mastery of every habitat, and their fantastic variety of hunting, mating, and highly organized social behaviors.

Adults are prejudiced against insects--handicapped by their ignorance and fears and limited by their size and vision. Children, who are closer to insects in size, notice and enjoy the tiny creatures.

In this companion book to the Animal Planet television program, Attenborough shares his childlike curiosity for invertebrates, taking us down wormholes and into insect homes for an up-close-and-personal look at their habitats. As the biblical book of Proverbs implores: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard: consider her ways and be wise." David Attenborough does go. It is worth going with him.

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