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Civilization And The Limpet

Martin Wells



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Perseus Books
07 September 1999
Written during a long sea voyage from England through the Mediterranean, Civilization and the Limpet unveils many fascinating phenomena of undersea life. Wells captures with exquisite detail how limpets, like bees, navigate by the stars how the brainless sea urchin makes a myriad of critical survival decisions every day how deserted islands teem with an incredible abundance of animal life and why deep-diving whales never get the bends. Elegant and finely crafted, Civilization and the Limpet will enlighten, amuse, and awe anyone interested in the natural world.
By:   Martin Wells
Imprint:   Perseus Books
Country of Publication:   United States
Edition:   New edition
Dimensions:   Height: 202mm,  Width: 128mm,  Spine: 13mm
Weight:   220g
ISBN:   9780738201740
ISBN 10:   073820174X
Pages:   224
Publication Date:   07 September 1999
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Martin Wells is an old hand at marine biology for both work and play. A Reader in the Zoology Department at Cambridge University, Wells has been delighting radio, TV, and live audiences for decades. He is the author of three academic books on invertebrate physiology, and the trade science book, You and Me and the Animal World.

Reviews for Civilization And The Limpet

Wells (Zoology/Cambridge Univ.) knows how to write odd, charming, limpid natural history essays, as demonstrated in these vest-pocket introductions to some of the more peculiar denizens of the marine kingdom. Many of the creatures Wells examines here - limpet, chambered nautilus, lugworm, blue-ringed octopus - are unfamiliar, but they are by no means freaks. They are fixtures in his world, the vastness known as marine biology. Just as Wells finds them absorbing ( knowledge of plants and animals makes the fine grain of my surroundings more entertaining ), readers will come to give these living things (even the hideous sea cucumber) at least a grudging admiration, thanks to Wells's enthusiasm. Certainly, broader applications than entertainment often apply, for without a smattering of plant and animal biology, how are we ever going to rumble the manifest nonsense sometimes fed to us by politicians, the odder greens, and the lunatic fringes of the animal rights movement. At best we might even hope to understand what we are doing to our own environment. This can mean determining how the brainless sea urchin coordinates the movement of several hundred legs or how the strategic advantage of bisexuality helps snails cope with the otherwise dead end of self-fertilization. He ponders the role of toxicity: Why are some animals poisonous beyond comprehension, and why are so many of them in Australia? In the commonsensical, opinionated tone that marks the collection (though Wells is never afraid to say I dunno ), he unravels the hot-bloodedness of cold-blooded creatures, and the cold bloodedness of the hot-bloodeds. And, as bewitching as Winslow Homer, Wells knows how to paint his chosen place, as he goes along under sail at night in a sea of bioluminescence. These peeks at the wondrous parade of nature will open your eyes wide with surprise and delight and provide not a little ammunition to rumble those who would defile the beauty of the earth. (Kirkus Reviews)

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