The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today

The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 006180648X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“Anextraordinary book…. With clarity and charm [Dunn] takes the reader into theoverlap of medicine, ecology, and evolutionary biology to reveal an importantdomain of the human condition.” —EdwardO. Wilson, author of Anthill and The Future of Life

BiologistRob Dunn reveals the crucial influence that other species have upon our health,our well-being, and our world in The WildLife of Our Bodies—a fascinating tour through the hidden truths of natureand codependence. Dunn illuminates the nuanced, often imperceptible relationshipsthat exist between homo sapiens and other species, relationships that underpinhumanity’s ability to thrive and prosper in every circumstance. Readers ofMichael Pollan’s TheOmnivore’s Dilemma will be enthralled by Dunn’s powerful, lucid explorationof the role that humankind plays within the greater web of life on Earth.

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earthworms), and many more of the species that live in our cities evolved in caves and cliffs.* Some species, such as some cave crickets and firebrats, are now more common in our houses than they are in caves. These species not only happen to be the ones we have favored but they have even continued, in many cases, to live as they once lived in caves. Rock doves still nest in crevices. Their ancient predators, peregrine falcons, still stoop on them among cliff faces (albeit glass ones). They still

Fincher, Randy Thornhill, and Markus Rantala all generously read the chapters relating to their research and added both insight and detail. They also contributed the research that in the first place helped me to see elements of who we were and are. Maurice Pollard, Philip Trexler, Joanna Lambert, and Piotr Naskrecki spent time talking me through some of their work and also their thoughts on the relationships between the rest of life and humans. William Parker read the entire book more than once

totally) wipe out every time we take antibiotics—really do. The answer involves a young man, a giant steel bubble, and a mistake. The question of how much and what the microbes in our guts do for us is nearly as old as the study of microbes. Although Pasteur would become a strong advocate for killing the living creatures in our milk (hence pasteurization) and other foods, he believed that the creatures that live in and on our bodies are so necessary that without them, we would die. They evolved,

partners, farmed by the ants on their bodies, worn like skin on the bone. The ants appear to sustain the bacteria and even to have evolved traits and maybe rewards that keep them from sliding off. An alternative explanation for the bacteria is that they actually defend the ants rather than the fungus. Either idea remains possible. In the meantime, the idea that our bodies might farm good microbes, for our defense, came first from the ants. And because ants are easier to study than humans, the

different is the quality of the vision and ultimately the brains of those who lived. In short, I would go so far as to say that Isbell’s reading of the history of primates and their vision is both wild and plausible. And, in any case, for my own broader thesis about the consequences of our interactions, it almost doesn’t matter. Any answer almost inevitably has to invoke interactions with other species, whether they are snakes, fruits, or something else. I vote for the snakes. Close your eyes

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