An insect disguises itself as a flower or leaf. A spider lassoes its prey. A beetle persuades a bee to care for its young. This beautifully illustrated book by veteran naturalist Sir David Attenborough offers a rare glimpse into the secret life of invertebrates, the world's tiniest--and most fascinating--creatures.
Small by virtue of their lack of backbones, this group of living things plays a surprisingly large role in the evolutionary cycle. These diverse creatures (more than one million species are believed to exist) roamed the earth before us and will still be here when we have gone. They are the pollinators, cleaners, and recyclers of life on earth. Without them, we would not last long.
Attenborough has studied and enjoyed these diminutive beings since he was a schoolboy in the Leicestershire countryside of England. Life in the Undergrowth, part of his innovative series on natural history topics, looks at invertebrates the world over: their arrival on land and mastery of every habitat, and their fantastic variety of hunting, mating, and highly organized social behaviors.
Adults are prejudiced against insects--handicapped by their ignorance and fears and limited by their size and vision. Children, who are closer to insects in size, notice and enjoy the tiny creatures.
In this companion book to the Animal Planet television program, Attenborough shares his childlike curiosity for invertebrates, taking us down wormholes and into insect homes for an up-close-and-personal look at their habitats. As the biblical book of Proverbs implores: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard: consider her ways and be wise." David Attenborough does go. It is worth going with him.
"With its superb synthesis of the majority of living species, Life in the Undergrowth is a high point in David Attenborough's career, but it is also an elegant restatement of something he has spent a lifetime trying to teach: we are simply one species among a multitude, all of which are worthy of our interest and respect."--Tim Flannery, New York Review of Books
"A companion to a new television program on Animal Planet, this wonderful exploration of invertebrates exceeds the requirements for a great nature book through the strength of its photographs and the quality of its prose."--Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"Attenborough is at it again, exploring the natural world with his team of cinematographers and clearly explaining what they've found to a lay audience. . . The text is always lively."---Booklist
"The stories told in this book are astonishing, and Attenborough knows just what wonder buttons to push. . . . This is a beautifully written book--a worthwhile addition to any family library and a fitting companion for anyone's lap while watching Life in the the Undergrowth."--Biology Digest
"Well-known naturalist Attenborough has written this book in a most engaging manner. Illustrated with stunning photographs, it serves both to inspire and inform."--Choice
"David Attenborough is one of those beloved Brits equally at home on the small screen or on the page, and Life in the Undergrowth is a companion volume to a television series of the same name. On the cover, a damselfly with the biggest, bluest eyes you ever saw peers out, inviting the reader in for one of Attenborough's trademark forays into the lives--social, sexual and gustatory, if not psychological--of creatures that comprise some 80 percent, says Stephen Marshall [author of Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity] of all identified animal species, with doubtless many more to come."--Martin Levin, Globe and Mail
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by David Attenborough:
Cloth: For sale only in the United States and Canada