Planet Of The Bugs: Evolution And The Rise Of Insects

Paperback | October 22, 2015

byScott Richard Shaw

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Dinosaurs, however toothy, did not rule the earth—and neither do humans. But what were and are the true potentates of our planet? Insects, says Scott Richard Shaw—millions and millions of insect species. Starting in the shallow oceans of ancient Earth and ending in the far reaches of outer space—where, Shaw proposes, insect-like aliens may have achieved similar preeminence—Planet of the Bugs spins a sweeping account of insects’ evolution from humble arthropod ancestors into the bugs we know and love (or fear and hate) today.

Leaving no stone unturned, Shaw explores how evolutionary innovations such as small body size, wings, metamorphosis, and parasitic behavior have enabled insects to disperse widely, occupy increasingly narrow niches, and survive global catastrophes in their rise to dominance. Through buggy tales by turns bizarre and comical—from caddisflies that construct portable houses or weave silken aquatic nets to trap floating debris, to parasitic wasp larvae that develop in the blood of host insects and, by storing waste products in their rear ends, are able to postpone defecation until after they emerge—he not only unearths how changes in our planet’s geology, flora, and fauna contributed to insects’ success, but also how, in return, insects came to shape terrestrial ecosystems and amplify biodiversity. Indeed, in his visits to hyperdiverse rain forests to highlight the current insect extinction crisis, Shaw reaffirms just how crucial these tiny beings are to planetary health and human survival.

In this age of honeybee die-offs and bedbugs hitching rides in the spines of library books, Planet of the Bugs charms with humor, affection, and insight into the world’s six-legged creatures, revealing an essential importance that resonates across time and space.
 

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Dinosaurs, however toothy, did not rule the earth—and neither do humans. But what were and are the true potentates of our planet? Insects, says Scott Richard Shaw—millions and millions of insect species. Starting in the shallow oceans of ancient Earth and ending in the far reaches of outer space—where, Shaw proposes, insect-like aliens...

Scott Richard Shaw is professor of entomology and Insect Museum curator at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. He has discovered more than one hundred and fifty insect species, including a number of parasitic wasps named after cultural icons such as David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Ellen DeGeneres, and Shaki...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.6 inPublished:October 22, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022632575X

ISBN - 13:9780226325750

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Table of Contents

Prologue. Time Travel with Insects
 
1. The Buggy Planet
2. Rise of the Arthropods
The Cambrian period, 541–485 million years ago, and the Ordovician period, 485–444 million years ago
3. Silurian Landfall
The Silurian period, 444–419 million years ago
4. Six Feet under the Moss
The Devonian period, 419–359 million years ago
5. Dancing on Air
The Carboniferous period, 359–299 million years ago
6. Paleozoic Holocaust
The Permian period, 299–252 million years ago
7. Triassic Spring
The Triassic period, 252–201 million years ago
8. Picnicking in Jurassic Park
The Jurassic period, 201–145 million years ago
9. Cretaceous Bloom and Doom
The Cretaceous period, 145–66 million years ago
10. Cenozoic Reflections
The Cenozoic era, 66 million years ago to the present day
Postscript. The Buggy Universe Hypothesis
 
Acknowledgments
About the Author
Notes
Suggested Reading
Index

Editorial Reviews

“This is a wonderful book that is highly readable and informative. I strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the evolution of life on earth.”