In a lively exploration of animal behavior in all its glorious complexity, biologist Marlene Zuk goes beyond the tired nature-versus-nurture debate to focus on the interaction between genes and the environment. Driving her investigation is a simple but essential question: How does behavior evolve?
Zuk addresses this question by drawing from a wealth of research on animal behavior, including her own on insects. She shares stories of cockatoos that dance to rock music, ants that heal their injured companions, dogs that exhibit signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more.
For insights into animal intelligence, mating behavior, and disease-fighting capacity, Zuk explores the behavior of smart spiders, silent crickets, and crafty crows. In each example, she clearly demonstrates how these traits were produced by the complex and diverse interactions between an organism’s genes and its environment—and urges us to consider how that same process applies to humans.
She helps us to see more clearly that animal and human behavior, while deeply complicated, can also be remarkably similar.
Zuk’s book Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test: How Behavior Evolves and Why It Matters (W. W. Norton) is available for purchase.
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