Scott Richard Shaw
University of Chicago Press
Planet of the Bugs by Scott Richard Shaw Summary
This “excellent guide to the history of our planet” offers a bugs-eye view of evolution, biodiversity, and todays ecological crises (The Guardian, UK). According to entomologist Scott Richard Shaw, dinosaurs never ruled the earth—and neither do humans. The true potentates of our planet are, and always have been, insects. Starting in the shallow oceans of ancient Earth and ending in the far reaches of outer space—where insect-like aliens may also reign—Planet of the Bugs spins a sweeping account of insects’ evolution from humble arthropod ancestors into the bugs we know today. Leaving no stone unturned, Shaw explores how evolutionary innovations such as small body size, wings, metamorphosis, and parasitic behavior have enabled insects to disperse widely, occupy increasingly narrow niches, and survive global catastrophes in their rise to dominance. Through bizarre and buggy tales—from caddisflies that construct portable houses to parasitic wasp larvae that develop in the blood of host insects—he demonstrates how changes in our planet’s geology, flora, and fauna contributed to insects’ success, and also how, in return, insects came to shape terrestrial ecosystems. And in his visits to hyperdiverse rain forests to highlight the current insect extinction crisis, Shaw reaffirms how crucial these tiny beings are to planetary health and human survival.