Feats of Strength: How Evolution Shapes Animal Athletic Abilities

Feats of Strength: How Evolution Shapes Animal Athletic Abilities

by Simon Lailvaux


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A fascinating exploration of the extreme world of animal athletics, how these stunning abilities have evolved, and their insights into human performance and evolution​

How is it that fish can climb waterfalls, snakes glide, and cheetahs run so fast? Natural and sexual selection has driven the evolution of diverse and amazing athletic abilities throughout the animal kingdom. Integrative biologist Simon Lailvaux draws on decades of performance research to highlight the ecological and evolutionary importance of these abilities, which include running, jumping, flying, biting, climbing, and swimming, and explains the many reasons they exist. He describes the methods and tools scientists use to measure animal performance—remote sensing technologies that can capture a cheetah’s running speed, or force meters that gauge the strength of a lizard’s bite or crab’s grip—as well as the diverse mechanisms underlying and enabling spectacular animal athletic feats. Using examples from the smallest insects to birds, whales, and even dinosaurs, Lailvaux provides a unique glimpse into a vibrant, eclectic field of research and points to new directions for understanding performance evolution in both animals and humans.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300222593
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 05/22/2018
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 1,208,556
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Simon Lailvaux holds the Virginia Kock/Audubon Nature Institute Chair in Species Preservation in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of New Orleans. His research group investigates ecological and evolutionary phenomena related to performance.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

1 Running, Jumping, and Biting 1

2 Eating and Not Being Eaten 21

3 Lovers and Fighters 46

4 Girls and Boys 69

5 Hot and Cold 92

6 Shape and Form 117

7 Limits and Constraints 147

8 Death and Taxes 175

9 Nature and Nurture 202

10 Mice and Men 228

Bibliography 247

Acknowledgments 267

Index 269

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