“A witty, scientifically accurate, and often intensely creepy exploration of sanguivorous creatures.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Bill Schutt turns whatever fear and disgust you may feel towards nature’s vampires into a healthy respect for evolution’s power to fill every conceivable niche.”—Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex and Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life
For centuries, blood feeders have inhabited our nightmares and horror stories, as well as the shadowy realms of scientific knowledge. In Dark Banquet, zoologist Bill Schutt takes us on a fascinating voyage into the world of some of nature’s strangest creatures—the sanguivores. Using a sharp eye and mordant wit, Schutt makes a remarkably persuasive case that blood feeders, from bats to bedbugs, are as deserving of our curiosity as warmer and fuzzier species are—and that many of them are even worthy of conservation.
Examining the substance that sustains nature’s vampires, Schutt reveals just how little we actually knew about blood until well into the twentieth century. We revisit George Washington on his deathbed to learn how ideas about blood and the supposedly therapeutic value of bloodletting, first devised by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, survived into relatively modern times.
Dark Banquet details our dangerous and sometimes deadly encounters with ticks, chiggers, and mites (the latter implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder—currently devastating honey bees worldwide). Then there are the truly weird—vampire finches. And if you thought piranha were scary, some people believe that the candiru (or willy fish) is the best reason to avoid swimming in the Amazon.
Enlightening and alarming, Dark Banquet peers into a part of the natural world to which we are, through our blood, inextricably linked.
Paperback | $16.00
Published by Crown
Oct 06, 2009 | 336 Pages | 5-3/16 x 8 | ISBN 9780307381132
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