Download Built by Animals: The Natural History of Animal Architecture by Mike Hansell PDF

By Mike Hansell

From termite mounds and caterpillar cocoons to the flowery nests of social birds and the lethal traps of spiders, the structures of the animal international can amaze and from time to time even rival our personal feats of engineering. yet how do creatures with such small brains construct those advanced buildings? What drives them to do it?

In this interesting quantity, Mike Hansell seems on the impressive constructions that animals build--whether houses, traps, or courtship displays--and unearths what technological know-how can let us know approximately this exceptional habit. we glance at wasp's nests, leaf-cutting ants, caddis flies and amoebae, or even the intense bower chicken, who seduces his mate with a embellished pile of twigs, baubles, feathers, and berries. we find how a few animals produce their very own development fabrics, akin to the silk secreted through spiders to weave an array of other net and traps, or the glue a few bugs produce to carry their constructions jointly. And we learn the way an enormous colony of social bugs can create nests which can penetrate as much as twenty ft into the floor and condo thousands of individuals--all outfitted by way of tiny-brained animals repeating many straightforward activities as they roam randomly round the constitution. Hansell additionally sheds gentle on how animal constructions have developed through the years, how insect societies emerged, how animals can adjust their wider habitat, or even no matter if a few animals have a cultured experience.

Built through Animals bargains a colourful account of a side of animal habit that would pride a person drawn to the wildlife.

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Additional resources for Built by Animals: The Natural History of Animal Architecture

Sample text

Other burrowers move the sediment in the reverse direction. The worm Maxmuelleria lankesteri, for example, feeds by leaning out of its burrow to skim off the freshly deposited surface layer of sediment within its reach which, after passage through its gut, is deposited at a depth of about 80cm. 5kg dry weight of mud per sq m per year. The marine mud, apparently passive to a passing Scuba diver, is in its top metre at least, a restless, dynamic ecosystem. The very high densities of creatures living in marine mud are an indication of what a rich food source it is.

Possibly not very much, but consider this, on the face of it, modest environmental modification: some small lumps of mud found on the walls of rock overhangs and caves in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. These are the remains of the nests of mud 29 Builders Change the World dauber wasps (probably Sceliphron species), hardly worth a glance were it not for their association with prehistoric rock paintings. This led to a dating of the wasp nests by subjecting the quartz grains of the mud to a technique called Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL).

3. 7 metric tonnes of cement mixed in 9,000 litres of water. Martin Bollazzi 23 The Builders to flow out of passages that exit at the top of the mound and into passages at the edge. This induced flow mechanism of nest ventilation exploits the same principle that causes lift on aircraft wings but, in the case of the mound, a pressure difference is created regardless of wind direction. Incidentally, although of all the architectural prowess shown by leafcutter ants we may be most impressed by the nest ventilation mechanism, the same principle is also shown by the mounds of some termites, the burrows of some rodents and, in flowing water systems, by some burrow-dwelling fish and mud shrimps.

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