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Academic & Professional Books  Natural History  Biography, Exploration & Travel

Kingdom of Ants José Celestino Mutis and the Dawn of Natural History in the New World

Biography / Memoir
By: Edward O Wilson(Author), José M Gómez Durán(Author)
95 pages, Col plates, b/w illus
Kingdom of Ants
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  • Kingdom of Ants ISBN: 9780801897856 Hardback Oct 2010 Usually dispatched within 4 days
Price: £19.99
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Kingdom of AntsKingdom of Ants

About this book

One of the earliest New World naturalists, Jose Celestino Mutis began his professional life as a physician in Spain and ended it as a scientist and natural philosopher in modern-day Colombia. Drawing on new translations of Mutis' nearly forgotten writings, this story of scientific adventure in eighteenth-century South America retrieves Mutis' contributions from obscurity.

In 1760, the 28-year-old Mutis embarked on a 48-year exploration of the natural world of northern South America. His thirst for knowledge led Mutis to study the region's flora, become a professor of mathematics, construct the first astronomical observatory in the Western Hemisphere, and amass one of the largest scientific libraries in the world.

One of his most important accomplishments involved ants. Acting at the urging of Carl Linnaeus – the father of taxonomy – shortly after he arrived in Granada, Mutis began studying the ants that swarmed everywhere. Though he lacked any entomological training, he built his own classification for the species he found and named at a time when New World entomology was largely nonexistent.



1. Who Was Mutis?
2. The Making of an Eighteenth-Century Naturalist
3. The Scientific Contributions of José Celestino Mutis
4. Mutis Seeks Advice
5. Mutis Begins His Study of Ants
6. Ants Are Transported by Ships
7. Ant Plants and Plant Ants
8. Mutis Learns about the Mule-Train (Leafcutter) Ants
9. Unending Struggles against the Mule-Train Ants
10. Ant Wars
11. Mutis Solves the Mystery of the Nomadic Pataloas
12. Mutis Measures the Size of an Army-Ant Colony
13. Mutis Tracks the Armies of Ants
14. Mutis Studies the Gender of Ants and Makes an Amazing Discovery
15. Mutis' Other Ants
16. How Good a Scientist Was Mutis?


Customer Reviews


Edward O. Wilson is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist and University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard University. Dr. Wilson has written more than 20 books and hundreds of journal articles.

José M. Gómez Durán is one of the founding members of the Iberian Myrmecological Association and a researcher with the Spanish Institute for Agriculture and Food Research and Technology (INIA).

Biography / Memoir
By: Edward O Wilson(Author), José M Gómez Durán(Author)
95 pages, Col plates, b/w illus
Media reviews

"Edward O. Wilson, one of those rare scientists who can make biology and science history not only readable but entertaining, has written a book that holds the reader's attention from beginning to end."
– Lynne M. Hinkey – Internet Review of Books

"By coupling excerpts from Mutis's forgotten diaries with recent findings on ant eating habits, reproductive behaviors, and emigration patterns, the authors give new relevance to one of the New World's oldest natural history studies. This interesting writing technique helps readers understand the continual nature of the process of scientific inquiry."

"A unique glance into the early world of science exploration, Kingdom of Ants is a delight to read and filled with intriguing information."
Southeastern Naturalist

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