Built by Animals: The Natural History of Animal Architecture

Built by Animals: The Natural History of Animal Architecture

Language: English

Pages: 268

ISBN: 0199205574

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

From termite mounds and caterpillar cocoons to the elaborate nests of social birds and the deadly traps of spiders, the constructions of the animal world can amaze and at times even rival our own feats of engineering. But how do creatures with such small brains build these complex structures? What drives them to do it?

In this fascinating volume, Mike Hansell looks at the extraordinary structures that animals build--whether homes, traps, or courtship displays--and reveals what science can tell us about this incredible behavior. We look at wasp's nests, leaf-cutting ants, caddis flies and amoebae, and even the extraordinary bower bird, who seduces his mate with a decorated pile of twigs, baubles, feathers, and berries. We discover how some animals produce their own building materials, such as the silk secreted by spiders to weave an array of different web and traps, or the glue some insects produce to hold their buildings together. And we learn how a vast colony of social insects can create nests which may penetrate up to twenty feet into the ground and house millions of individuals--all built by tiny-brained animals repeating many simple actions as they roam randomly around the structure. Hansell also sheds light on how animal buildings have evolved over time, how insect societies emerged, how animals can alter their wider habitat, and even whether some animals have an aesthetic sense.

Built by Animals offers a colorful account of a facet of animal behavior that will delight anyone interested in the natural world.

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With unaltered branches acting as controls.7 Creation of these simple leaf rolls not only resulted in seven times the abundance of insects on ‘experimental’ branches compared with ‘controls’, but also a rather staggering four times the species diversity. Many of the colonists exploiting the leaf rolls were not leaf feed- ers themselves but predators. A supplementary experiment, which attached paper rolls in the experimental patches instead of rolling the leaves, showed that even for leaf.

Upside-down bowl, leaving hardly a mark to betray the entrance of the burrow. If you were to watch this nest entrance during the provisioning stage you would understand what task the complex structure over the burrow entrance fulfils. As the female wasp comes and goes on her prey catching trips, the burrow entrance is unguarded from parasitic insects that seek to lay eggs in the burrow from which maggots will 128 From One Nest to Another hatch to feed on her larvae. But she has burnished.

A tool maker as well, since the live termite is transformed into a termite lure. Certainly there is novelty here, but the novelty is the product of genetic mutation. In case that seems a little improbable, here is a second insect tool use example to which we can attach the same kind of explanation. It is the digger wasp genus Ammophila. Females in a few species of this wasp genus dig a vertical burrow into the dry ground, at the end of which is excavated a chamber where the wasp’s larva.

Credit should also go to Elizabeth, John Gould’s wife, as an artist in this great work. The bowerbird family (the Ptilonorhynchidae) is a small one, con- fined to Australia and New Guinea and with no more than twenty species, in most, but not all of which, males build bowers.1 In virtu- ally no other species outside this family do males build specialized 216 Beautiful 217 Bower s? Figure 8.1. Avenue display of the spotted bowerbird: the magnificent double-page illustration by John and.

Equivalent of a necklace.9 What significance can be attached to this object? Unfortunately, very little. Its very uniqueness attests to the fact that it does not contribute to or reinforce any similar pattern seen in wild chimpanzees. We have no idea whether the knot came about through deliberate intent or accidentally, or even if Ako herself made it. I want to digress into literature for a moment in order to draw attention to the way in which we interpret art. ‘Reflections are images of.

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