RIVERSIDE, Calif. Insects have always held a special fascination for Marlene Zuk, world-class evolutionary biologist and author of several popular science books. They offer us, she says, a way to understand living things without having our own anthropomorphism get in the way.
"People have strong feelings about insects, and most of those feelings are negative," says Zuk, a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside. "But insects let us see what life is like when things are stripped down to their bare essentials. They force you to think about interesting scientific questions rather than see them as tiny people in fur suits, as cute caricatures of humans."
Zuk is now the author of a brand-new book on insect behavior that written with a general audience in mind: "Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language From the Insect World" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011).
The 272-page book is "a chance to look at the way genes behave, free from the wishful thinking, cultural assumption, and ideological prejudice we sometimes bring to the study of our own species," writes author Zadie Smith in the July 2011 issue of Harper's Magazine.
To see a video of Zuk talking about the book, click here.
Not just about sex
Laced with humor and wit, the book is a compendium of Zuk's painstaking research and vast readings on the world of insects. She tackles topics in the book that most people would not readily associate with creepy crawlies.
For example, she discusses homosexuality in the chapter "So Two Fruit Flies Go into a Bar"; personality in "The Inner Life of Wasps"; gender differences in "Sp
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University of California - Riverside