Life in the Undergrowth

Life in the Undergrowth

by David Attenborough
Pub. Date:
Princeton University Press


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Life in the Undergrowth

An insect disguises itself as a flower or leaf. A spider lassoes its prey. A beetle persuades a bee to care for its young. This beautifully illustrated book by veteran naturalist Sir David Attenborough offers a rare glimpse into the secret life of invertebrates, the world's tiniest—and most fascinating—creatures.

Small by virtue of their lack of backbones, this group of living things plays a surprisingly large role in the evolutionary cycle. These diverse creatures (more than one million species are believed to exist) roamed the earth before us and will still be here when we have gone. They are the pollinators, cleaners, and recyclers of life on earth. Without them, we would not last long.

Attenborough has studied and enjoyed these diminutive beings since he was a schoolboy in the Leicestershire countryside of England. Life in the Undergrowth, part of his innovative series on natural history topics, looks at invertebrates the world over: their arrival on land and mastery of every habitat, and their fantastic variety of hunting, mating, and highly organized social behaviors.

Adults are prejudiced against insects—handicapped by their ignorance and fears and limited by their size and vision. Children, who are closer to insects in size, notice and enjoy the tiny creatures.

In this companion book to the Animal Planet television program, Attenborough shares his childlike curiosity for invertebrates, taking us down wormholes and into insect homes for an up-close-and-personal look at their habitats. As the biblical book of Proverbs implores: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard: consider her ways and be wise." David Attenborough does go. It is worth going with him.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691127033
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 01/02/2006
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,071,649
Product dimensions: 6.75(w) x 9.75(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Sir David Attenborough is one of the best-loved naturalists of our time. He is the author of The Life of Birds, The Life of Mammals, The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior, and Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster (all Princeton) and Life on Earth. He has presented numerous world-renowned and award-winning natural history documentaries.

Table of Contents

1The invasion of the land11
2The first to fly60
3The silk spinners110
4Intimate relations166
Evolutionary chart278
Sources of photographs282

What People are Saying About This


In Life in the Undergrowth, Sir David Attenborough again makes the difficult seem effortless—he delivers with characteristic grace and informality intimate details of the lives of creatures that often pass without notice, and yet on whom the functioning of this biological planet rests. I believe this to be the very best in his series—the sense of breathless wonder in his subject is palpable—and it joins the classic collections of nature essays by E. O. Wilson, Thomas Eisner, and Rachel Carson.
Brian D. Farrell, Professor of Biology and Curator in Entomology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University.

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Life in the Undergrowth 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
Attenborough has put together another fascinating overview of one of the animal groups. He surveys the sex lives or spiders, the strategies of predatory insects, the social organization of bees and ants, and many other topics of interest in the world of invertebrates. Read it it and you will feel as if he is taking with him on a journey in an alien world. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago