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It may be a wonderful world, but as Dan Riskin (cohost of Discovery Canada's Daily Planet) explains, it's also a dangerous, disturbing, and disgusting one. At every turn, it seems, living things are trying to eat us, poison us, use our bodies as their homes, or have us spread their eggs.
In Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You, Riskin is our guide through the natural world at its most gloriously ruthless.
Using the seven deadly sins as a road map, Riskin offers dozens of jaw-dropping examples that illuminate how brutal nature can truly be. From slothful worms that hide in your body for up to thirty years to wrathful snails with poisonous harpoons that can kill you in less than five minutes to lustful ducks that have orgasms faster than you can blink, these fascinating accounts reveal the candid truth about "gentle" Mother Nature's true colors. Riskin's passion for the strange and his enthusiastic expertise bring Earth's most fascinating flora and fauna into vivid focus.
Through his adventures – which include sliding on his back through a thick soup of bat guano just to get face-to-face with a vampire bat, befriending a parasitic maggot that has taken root on his head, and coming to grips with having offspring of his own – Riskin makes unexpected discoveries not just about the world all around us but also about the ways this brutal world has shaped us as humans and what our responsibilities are to this terrible, wonderful planet we call home.
Dan Riskin is an evolutionary biologist and passionate ambassador of science to popular audiences. Since 2011, Riskin has cohosted the world's only hour-long daily science show, Daily Planet, on Discovery Canada. He is also the host of Animal Planet's wildly successful show Monsters Inside Me, about parasites. He lives in Toronto.
"Can a book about vampire bats and necrophiliac frogs be an uplifting experience? When Dan Riskin writes it, yes. Mother Nature Is Trying To Kill You is a no-holds romp through life's nasty, creepy, and otherwise fascinating corners."
– Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex
"I am in awe of Dan's ability to make the most disgusting and repulsive things seem fascinating and, frankly, beautiful. I wish he'd write the press releases for my show. This is very cool."
– Craig Ferguson, host of The Late Late Show and author of American on Purpose
"You have to love Dan Riskin's Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You. It's eye-opening, hair-raising, and engaging science, all at the same time. A fascinating tour of the often ghoulish strategies nature devises to help creatures unmask, do-in, and otherwise wreak havoc with you, me, and nearly every other living thing on the planet. The research is exhaustive and surprising, yet fun and accessible. Along the way readers get a fresh, first-hand view of the inventive ways the evolutionary sweepstakes works."
– Chip Walter, author of Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived
"Calling all science geeks! A fascinating and funny look at some of the fantastic and frightening aspects of the 'natural' world. You will laugh, you will learn, you may even throw up a little in your mouth. Required reading, if you like things that are good."
– Ed Robertson, lead singer of Barenaked Ladies
"Wildlife lovers, in an effort to dispel the idea that we are dominant over the earth, have tried to portray 'nature' and 'natural' as beautiful, peaceful things. Dan Riskin reveals the folly of that by showing us that not only are other organisms trying to take us down – in myriad ways – but in their spare time, trying to get each other. Peaceful? Ha!"
– Jay Ingram, author of The Science of Everyday Life
"Pride and envy, lust and sloth – in Riskin's evolutionary romp, not deadly sins, but virtues learned at Mother Nature's knee."
– Pam Nagami, M.D.
"Well worth reading. Full of fascinating facts and intriguing tales that will ensure you never look at nature in quite the same way again."
– Penny Le Couteur, author of Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History