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Ancient and strange, beetles call to mind a lost world of Egyptian magic and belief – a reminder of the fascination they've long held for human culture. In Beetle, Adam Dodd offers a richly illustrated, engaging account of the natural and cultural history of the beetle, from its origins more than two hundred and fifty million years ago to the present, when its anatomy is inspiring cutting-edge developments in cybernetics. Along the way, Dodd explores the incredible variety of beetles on earth – there are more than 350 000 species – and their amazing ability to exploit nature's niches. He also takes readers on a wide-ranging tour of the countless ways that beetles have infiltrated our art, folklore, literature, and religious beliefs. Stolid, secretive, and still-mysterious, beetles continue to exert a powerful pull on naturalists and collectors today, and no beetle fanatic will want to miss Dodd's winning appreciation of their history.
Adam Dodd is coeditor of Animals on Display: The Creaturely in Museums, Zoos, and Natural History and teaches media, communication and cultural studies at the University of Queensland, Australia.
"Part of the extensive Animal series, which explores the historical and cultural significance of a very diverse range of animals [...] Beetle goes further. [...] It is infused with thought-provoking and perceptive philosophical observations about both positive and negative impacts (in both directions) in the relationship, the position of beetles in the human consciousness, and the ways in which those interactions and our thoughts and understanding have evolved over history. In spite of this slightly deeper aspect, the book is accessibly written and contains a wealth of fascinating (and sometimes quite amusing) historical accounts and scientific information gleaned from a wide variety of sources (meticulously referenced), case histories and personal anecdotes, and is well researched. There are numerous good quality photographs of both live and preserved beetles, artefacts and historically important illustrations. [...] It is well worth a read, and not just if you're a coleopterist."
– Martin Townsend, Atropos 61, 2018