ANIMAL ARCHITECTURE by Karl & Otto Von Frisch


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Natural history in the spirit of Fabre, though with something less than his stylistic elan and, in most instances, without the suspense of investigation in progress. The pictures, which we have not seen, ought to make up the difference in this survey of animal building from small one-celled sea animals, for whom architecture is a side-effect of digestion, to chimps, whose problem-solving suggests proto-human intentionality. The bulk of the book is divided between the arthropoda (including some of Fabre's chosen species -- the caddis fly, digger wasp, etc.) and vertebrates, with special emphasis on such unique accomplishments as temperature control among the birds and formal standardization by the bees, who do not depend on lateral pressure for the hexagonal shape of their cells. The book does not venture far beyond plain description, and not all of the most arresting material even bears directly on construction (did you know that the ant lion has, needs, no anus?); but in its unexcited way it raises mysteries great and small: how is R that spiders, like tailors choosing a grade of thread, can decide which of six silk glands will secrete? And why should animals remote from one another in species and with entirely different materials arrive at the same solutions for comparable structural problems? Ethological speculation is left to the readers of alt ages, although Karl von Frisch, a Nobel pioneer in the field, prepares the ground.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1974
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich