In Built by Animals: The natural history of animal architecture Mike Hansell looks at the extraordinary structures that animals build – whether homes, traps, or courtship displays – and reveals the biology behind their behaviour. He shows how small-brained animals achieve complex feats in a small-brained way, by repeating many simple actions and using highly evolved self-secreted materials. On the other hand, the building feats or tool use of large-brained animals, such as humans or chimps, require significantly more complex and costly behaviour.
We look at wasp’s nests, leaf-cutting ants, caddisflies and amoebae, and even the extraordinary bower bird, who seduces his mate with a decorated pile of twigs, baubles, feathers and berries. Hansell explores how animal structures evolved over time, how insect societies emerge, how animals can alter their wider habitat, and even whether some animals have an aesthetic sense.
“Built by Animals is popular science at its best.” – Mark Cocker, The Guardian
“Hansell, an evolutionary biologist specialising in animal architecture, knows the answers and can tell a good story. Great stuff.” – Douglas Palmer, New Scientist
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