Parasite Rex

Carl Zimmer

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For centuries, parasites have lived in nightmares, horror stories, and in the darkest shadows of science. Now award-winning writer Carl Zimmer takes us on a fantastic voyage into the secret parasite universe we actually live in but haven't recognized. He reveals not only that parasites are the most successful life-forms on Earth, but that they triggered the development of sex, shape ecosystems, and have driven the engine of evolution. In mapping the parasite universe, Zimmer makes the astonishing observation that most species are parasites, and that almost every animal, including humans, will at one time or another become the home of a parasite. Zimmer shows how highly evolved parasites are and describes the frightening and amazing ingenuity these commando invaders use to devour their hosts from the inside and control their behavior. The sinister Sacculina carcini makes its home in an unlucky crab and proceeds to eat everything but what the crab needs to put food in its mouth, which Sacculina then consumes. When Sacculina finally reproduces, it places its young precisely where the crab would nurture its own progeny, and then has the crab nurture the foster family members. Single-celled Toxoplasma gondi has an even more insidious role, for it can invade the human brain. There it makes men distrustful and less willing to submit to social mores. Women become more outgoing and warm-hearted. Why would a parasite cause these particular personality changes? It seems Toxoplasma wants its host to be less afraid, to be more prone to danger and a violent end -- so that, in the carnage, it will be able to move on to another host.
Language English
ISBN-10 0-09-945799-7
No of pages 298
Book Publisher Simon & Schuster
Published Date 30 Nov -0001

About Author

Author : Carl Zimmer

5 Books

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