Cover image for Evolutionary wars : a three-billion-year arms race : the battle of species on land, at sea, and in the air
Evolutionary wars : a three-billion-year arms race : the battle of species on land, at sea, and in the air
Levy, Charles K., 1924-2010.
Publication Information:
New York : W.H. Freeman and Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
xv, 300 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH375 .L54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Blending his scientific and military interests, Levy (biology, Boston U.) describes evolution as a constant battle between species, perhaps to lure adolescent boys raised on violent video games into learning science. He includes bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Levy, a biology professor whose father was a cartographer and explorer, brings an adventurous spirit and curiosity to this book that explores the age-old struggle for survival even on a microscopic level. He draws an analogy between the Darwinian struggle for survival among animals and microorganisms and the arms race among humans, detailing predatory activity and competitive forces at work to "preserve the dynamic balance of nature." Levy explores methods of survival from nonliving cell walls used as armor for protection, toxins used in chemical defense, and flagella used for mobility to escape conflict with a stronger predator. He focuses on how complex to simple organisms have developed the tools and means to survive, compete, and fight off predators over 3 billion years of evolution, e.g., how shark brains process information about smells and how invading beetles first induce sympathy in their prospective victim ants. This fascinating and accessible book, written for the general reader, is also amply and well illustrated. --Vanessa Bush

Library Journal Review

This compendium of evolutionary adaptations describes the violent nature of natural selection along with illustrative support of evolution. The author emphasizes vertebrates, although a large number of invertebrate structuresÄincluding poison-filled jellyfish, corals, and anemones, and the chemical warfare weapons of bombardier beetlesÄare also covered. Just the varieties of tongues described is astounding, from the highly specialized form found in woodpeckers to the adhesive tongues of anteaters. Still, Levy makes no mention of the rasping tongues of tigers that can tear flesh off bones, and in describing the guided missile tongue of the chameleon, he misses one of its more inventive mechanical components: the telescopic sliding of the actin and myosin muscle filaments. However, it is impossible to cover everything, and there do not appear to be any obvious errors in content. There is certainly no other book that covers the evolutionary adaptations of so many species in as much detail. Of interest to public libraries, K-12 schools, and introductory biology courses in colleges and universities.ÄLloyd Davidson, Seeley G. Mudd Lib. for Science & Engineering, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-This book explores the "extraordinary technologies" species have devised to ensure their survival. This Darwinian struggle has produced strategies, tactics, and weaponry that rival or surpass even the most sophisticated efforts produced by humans. Levy's evocation of military terminology will be familiar to generations raised with television, movies, and video games. Discussions of early warning and navigation systems, echolocation, and "primary target acquisition systems" pepper the text. The author pays special attention to the weapons technology that abounds in nature-claws, talons, teeth, suffocation (constrictors), toxic injection (scorpions), and electricity (eels). He points out offensive and defensive strategies practiced by a range of species, such as the schooling strategies of fish, the cooperative hunting exhibited by wolves and other carnivores, and the recruitment of mercenaries, evidenced by the relationship between thorn acacia trees and ants. Although Levy limits his focus to "familiar organisms," he includes an impressive array of species, from the microbial world to the largest vertebrates, past and present. The exquisite drawings provide the crowning touch.-Dori DeSpain, Herndon Fortnightly Library, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
1 In the Beginningp. 1
2 The War at Seap. 35
3 The Terrestrial Battlegroundp. 91
4 The Vertebrate Landingp. 119
5 The Wild Blue Yonderp. 161
6 Eating from the Table of Othersp. 209
7 How Plants and Fungi Make Warp. 235
8 The Ultimate Weapon Systemp. 251
Indexp. 279