214 pages, 120 b/w illustrations
Vampire bats that regurgitate blood for roosting buddies. Mosquitoes that filch honeydew droplets from ants. Reptiles that enforce chastity on their lovers with copulatory plugs. Capuchin monkeys that use millipede secretions as mosquito repellent. The natural world is full of unusual relationships, and negotiation between life-forms striving to survive is evolution at its most diverse, entertaining, and awe-inspiring. Picking up where her highly popular "Headless Males Make Great Lovers" left off, tropical field biologist Marty Crump takes us on another voyage of discovery into the world of unusual natural histories, this time focusing on extraordinary interactions involving animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria.
Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers & Other Unusual Relationships illuminates the ceaseless give-and-take between species. Occasionally, both interacting parties benefit, like when hornbills and dwarf mongooses hunt together for food. Other times, like when mites ride in hummingbirds' nostrils to reach their next meal of nectar, one individual benefits and the other is neither helped nor harmed. But sometimes one individual benefits at the expense of the other; you need only recall your last sinus infection to understand how that works.
Throughout, Crump brings her trademark spunk and zest to these stories of intimate exchange. She introduces readers to penguins that babysit, pseudoscorpions that ride and mate under the wings of giant harlequin beetles, and parasitic fungi that bend insects to their will. After this entertaining romp through the world of natural relationships, you'll never look at an orchid the same way again.
"Marty Crump's book is a trawl through the whole gamut of weird animal behaviours. Watch out for spine-anointing, toad-chewing hedgehogs; tortoises that stomp the ground to draw up worms; and the mantids of the title that mate more effectively once the female has bitten off their heads. With Crump's thirty-plus years of experience in the field, this beautifully written and charmingly illustrated book combines acute observation with helpful explanation. Nature has never seemed so bizarre and splendid."
- Adrian Barnett, New Scientist
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Marty Crump is a behavioral ecologist who has worked with tropical amphibians in the areas of parental care, reproduction, territoriality, cannibalism, and tadpole ecology. An adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, she is the author of In Search of the Golden Frog and Headless Males Make Great Lovers, both published by the University of Chicago Press.