Animals Are Us
THE WILD LIFE OF OUR BODIES:
Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today
By Rob Dunn.
290 pp. $26.99
For humans, nature has never been less threatening. We have conquered many of the diseases that felled our ancestors when they were half as old as the average person lives to be now, and few people die anymore in the jaws of predators. Antibiotics keep bacteria at bay, and the spread of cities and towns has pushed lions and tigers and bears away from our doors. We call this progress. Who would want to go back to, say, a time before penicillin?
But driving other species out of our lives has had some unintended consequences, argues biologist Rob Dunn in his provocative book The Wild Life of Our Bodies. For most of human history, we lived in proximity to countless other species. We evolved in concert with these life forms; everything from the tiniest microbes to the most fearsome predators shaped the bodies and brains we’re walking around with today. “What happens,” Dunn asks, “when humans leave behind the species their bodies evolved to interact with, whether they be cheetahs, diseases, honeybees, or giant sucking worms?”
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Emily Anthes is a science writer who lives in Brooklyn. She is working on a book about biotechnology and the future of animals.more from this author >>
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