Parasite Rex : Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures
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.
About the Author(s)
Carl Zimmer is the author of At the Water's Edge and a frequent contributor to Discover, National Geographic, Natural History, Nature, and Science. He is a winner of the Everett Clark Award for science journalism and the American Institute of Biological Sciences Media Award. He lives in New York City.CUSTOMER REVIEWS
This book will alter how you look at the world, December 3, 2000
This is one of those rare books that can totally alter how you look at the world. Read it and you begin seeing parasites in every skin blemish you have. See a cat catch a mouse and all you can do is think about all the parasites its about the ingest. You find youself wanting to visit the parasite museum in Maryland to see all the horrible creatures you've been reading about. You begin thinking that Zimmer's right and that parasites have driven the evolution of the world. You begin wodering if Stephen King has read it and if so what novel he's writing. You begin wondering if there's thousands of little cysts in your brain and that your life goal of going on safari in Africa may need revaluated. You imagine what its like to extract a guinea worm from your leg. You question whether or not you will ever eat crab again. You wonder whether the reason you've been so hungry of late is because there's a sixty foot long tapeworm inside your intestines. It's a stunning book and an important one. Zimmer found something obvious that's been overlooked in biology and if he's right will change the way we view life. Survival of the individual will be changed to survival of the creature living inside the indiviual. For example, there is a parasite that gets inside a snail, takes it over, forces it climb a blade of grass and wait for a grazing cow to wander by and eat it. The cow is where the parasite wants to end up. The snail is just a vessel to reach the cow. The young of the parasite end up in cow pies which the snail eats and the cycle begins again. The complex world of flukes and tapeworms, of enslaved crabs and suicidal snails, of sleeping sickness and malaria, is like a car wreck: you want to turn away but you can't, you're compelled to look fearful of what you might see. As you explore the book you learn that these creatures are much more than revolting. I can't say you'll ever view them with sympathy, you can view them with respect -- and hopefully at a safe distance.
Rating: not rated | Added on: 15 Nov 2006
Rate this book: