The Beauty of the Beastly: New Views on the Nature of Life
, 1995 - Nature
- 278 pages
"The beauty of the natural world lies in the details, and most of those details are not the stuff of calendar art, " Natalie Angier writes in the introduction to The Beauty of the Beastly. "I have made it a kind of hobby, almost a mission, to write about organisms that many people find repugnant: spiders, scorpions, parasites, worms, rattlesnakes, dung beetles, hyenas. I have done so out of a perverse preference for subjects that other writers generally have ignored, and because I hope to inspire in readers an appreciation for diversity, for imagination, for the twisted, webbed, infinite possibility of the natural world. Every single story that nature tells is gorgeous." She has taken pains to learn her science from the molecule up, finding "the very pulse of the machine" in everything from the supple structure of DNA to the erotic ways of barn swallows, queen bees, and the endangered, otherworldly primate called the aye-aye. Angier knows all that scientists know - and sometimes more - about the power of symmetry in sexual relations, about the brutal courting habits of dolphins, about the grand deceit of orchids, about the impact of female and male preference on evolution. She knows how scientists go about their work, and she describes their ways, their visions, and their arguments.