Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers: & Other Unusual Relationships

Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers: & Other Unusual Relationships

Language: English

Pages: 232

ISBN: 0226121852

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Vampire bats that regurgitate blood for roosting buddies. Mosquitoes that filch honeydew droplets from ants. Reptiles that enforce chastity on their lovers with copulatory plugs. Capuchin monkeys that use millipede secretions as mosquito repellent. The natural world is full of unusual relationships, and negotiation between life-forms striving to survive is evolution at its most diverse, entertaining, and awe-inspiring. 

Picking up where her highly popular Headless Males Make Great Lovers left off, tropical field biologist Marty Crump takes us on another voyage of discovery into the world of unusual natural histories, this time focusing on extraordinary interactions involving animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria. Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers& Other Unusual Relationships illuminates the ceaseless give-and-take between species. Occasionally, both interacting parties benefit, like when hornbills and dwarf mongooses hunt together for food. Other times, like when mites ride in hummingbirds’ nostrils to reach their next meal of nectar, one individual benefits and the other is neither helped nor harmed. But sometimes one individual benefits at the expense of the other; you need only recall your last sinus infection to understand how that works.

Throughout, Crump brings her trademark spunk and zest to these stories of intimate exchange. She introduces readers to penguins that babysit, pseudoscorpions that ride and mate under the wings of giant harlequin beetles, and parasitic fungi that bend insects to their will. A lively companion to Crump’s earlier work, Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers& Other Unusual Relationships captures the bizarre and befuddling aspects of the behavior of animals, plants, and microbes. After this entertaining romp through the world of natural relationships, you’ll never look at an orchid the same way again.

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Especially if transporting more than one remora. Depending on where the remora has attached, the hitchhiker may slightly reduce the host’s hydrodynamic efficiency. Typically, neither of these costs is high enough for the hitchhiker to qualify as a parasite, however. But does the host gain anything? It depends on what the particular remoras eat. Some eat only scraps of food that fall from the host’s mouth, bits of the host’s vomit and feces, and free-living fishes and invertebrates. In this case,.

Underground. seeds wr apped in brightly colored fleshy fruits attract birds, mice, raccoons, coyotes, bats, primates, and other animals that eat the fruit, then drop or defecate viable seeds—often at some distance from the parent plant and ideally on fertile soil. Some animals you might not expect are seed-dispersing frugivores. 115 116 chapter three If you were out fishing in North America or another region in the temperate zone, would you tap the water surface with your fishing rod to lure.

Side. Then they flick the wads to the other side and grind some more before swallowing. Second, koalas have long caeca, up to six feet in length. Coarse bits of leaves head down the colon, but finely shredded particles stay in the caecum for about eight days, where bacteria break down the cellulose and extract nutrients, used both by themselves and their host. Even with these huge fermentation vats, koalas absorb only about 25 percent of the plant fiber they ingest. They store little or no fat.

Bread-like fungus. Worker ants feast on the terminal bulbs of the hyphae that grow on the leaf fragments. They also feed the bulbs to their queen and to their larvae. Workers tend their fungus garden with as much diligence as we did our garden—though in very different ways. The ants chew the leaf particles, in va sion of the body sn atcher s then add saliva and feces to form a sticky mass. Next they pluck tufts of fungal threads from another part of the garden and “plant” the fungus in the.

Fragrant mint. The ancients who celebrated the Eleusinian Mysteries may have had more in mind than merely securing happiness in the afterlife. In the 1970s the late Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann and others speculated that drinking kykeon produced hallucinogenic effects from ergot—a parasitic fungus that grows on barley. Eleusinian priests may have collected fungus from barley and other grasses growing near the temple and purposely added it to the kykeon. spores of ergot fungi germinate on flower.

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