NATURE INVENTED IT FIRST by Ross E. Hutchins

NATURE INVENTED IT FIRST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It's one thing to point to counterparts in nature to the armored tank, submarine, airplane, hypodermic needle (bee stingers, snake fangs), and so on, and to refer in quotes to various plants and animals as ""the first 'inventors' of light""; but another to introduce these animal parallels as challenges to the assumption behind the name ""Homo sapiens,"" or to suggest without quotes ""that many wild creatures are about as smart as we are."" For illustration, Hutchins notes that though sonar wasn't invented till the 1920s, bats and dolphins and South American oilbirds have always used echolocation; that Thomas Edison didn't turn on the electric light till 1978, but fireflies, other insects, and some sea animals have more efficient lighting systems; that herons and wasps and sea otters use tools; hornets, honeybees, and termites have home cooling systems; birds and the monarch butterfly are expert navigators; skunks and poison ivy use chemical warfare, etc. Though perhaps superfluous in light of, and superficial in comparison with, the several separate juvenile books on these subjects (some of them by Hutchins), the roundup could have some curiosity value for less serious young readers--but Hutchins' introduction does nothing to clarify the basic issue.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1980
Publisher: Dodd, Mead