Life in the Undergrowth

Life in the Undergrowth

4.4 (264 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 more

Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 180.34 x 248.92 x 27.94mm | 1,043.26g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 275 color plates.
  • 0691127034
  • 9780691127033
  • 371,703

Review quote

"[A] beautifully produced study of fossil invertebrates."--John Wilson, First Things "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 "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 "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 "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 "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) "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 Booksshow more

Back cover copy

"In Life in the Undergrowth, Sir David Attenborough again makes the difficult seem effortless--he delivers with characteristic grace and informality intimate details of the lives of creatures that often pass without notice, and yet on whom the functioning of this biological planet rests. I believe this to be the very best in his series--the sense of breathless wonder in his subject is palpable--and it joins the classic collections of nature essays by E. O. Wilson, Thomas Eisner, and Rachel Carson."--Brian D. Farrell, Professor of Biology and Curator in Entomology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard more

About Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough is one of the best-loved naturalists of our time. He is the author of The Life of Birds, The Life of Mammals, The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior, and Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster (all Princeton) and Life on Earth. He has presented numerous world-renowned and award-winning natural history more

Rating details

264 ratings
4.4 out of 5 stars
5 54% (143)
4 35% (92)
3 9% (25)
2 1% (2)
1 1% (2)
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