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Animal weapons : the evolution of battle

Author: Douglas John Emlen
Publisher: New York : Picador Henry Holt and Company, 2015 ©2014
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : First Picador Paperback editionView all editions and formats
Summary:
Every animal relies on a weapon of some kind -- cats have claws, eagles have talons, and even the dogs we keep as pets have a respectable set of teeth. But the overwhelming majority of these weapons stay small, proportional to the rest of the animals' bodies. In rare cases, however, we find species whose weapons have become stunningly outsized, some with tusks or horns so massive that the animals who wield them look  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Douglas John Emlen
ISBN: 1250075319 9781250075314
OCLC Number: 897776053
Description: xiii, 270 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of color plates : illustrations ; 21 cm
Contents: Extremes --
Part I. Starting small --
Camouflage and armor --
Teeth and claws --
Claspers, graspers, and giant jaws --
Part II. Triggering the race --
Competition --
Economic defensibility --
Duels --
Part III. Running its course --
Costs --
Reliable signals --
Deterrence --
Sneaks and cheats --
End of the race --
Part IV. Parallels --
Castles of sand and stone --
Ships, planes, and states --
Mass destruction.
Responsibility: Douglas J. Emlen ; illustrated by David J. Tuss.

Abstract:

Every animal relies on a weapon of some kind -- cats have claws, eagles have talons, and even the dogs we keep as pets have a respectable set of teeth. But the overwhelming majority of these weapons stay small, proportional to the rest of the animals' bodies. In rare cases, however, we find species whose weapons have become stunningly outsized, some with tusks or horns so massive that the animals who wield them look like they should tip over or collapse under their bulk and weight. Weapons just as extreme have cropped up in walruses and narwhals, crabs, beetles, bugs and flies. What is it about these species? Why are their weapons so big? When does bigger become too big? Biology professor Douglas Emlen pulls readers into the worlds of these remarkable beasts, trekking through rainforests and mountain passes to unravel the mysteries of their weapons. Humans are animals, too, and no book on extreme weapons would be complete without an examination of our own arsenals. The parallels between animal weapons and manufactured weapons run deep, and the same critical conditions trigger arms races in animals and in humans, analogous factors sculpt their evolution, and similar circumstances ultimately bring about collapse -- the sudden, and often dramatic, end of the race. A story that begins with biology becomes the story of all weapons, as readers glide between beetles and battleships, crabs and the Cold War. Ultimately, Emlen seeks to determine where this parallel leaves us today, in a post-Cold War world filled with the deadliest weapons of all time -- nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction.

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