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In the evolutionary arms race that has raged on since life began, organisms have developed an endless variety of survival strategies. From sharp claws to brute strength, camouflage to venom – all these tools and abilities share one purpose: to keep their bearer alive long enough to reproduce, helping the species avoid extinction. Every living thing on this planet has developed a time-tested arsenal of weapons and defenses. Some of these weapons and defenses, however, are decidedly more unusual than others.
In Strange Survivors, biologist Oné R. Pagán takes us on a tour of the improbable, the ingenious, and the just plain bizarre ways that creatures fight for life.
Inside this funny, fascinating field guide to nature's most colorful characters, you'll meet killer snails, social bacteria, and an animal with toxic elbows. But Strange Survivors is more than a collection of curiosities – it is a love letter to science and an argument for the continuing relevance of this evolutionary battle as we face the threat of resistant bacteria and the need for novel medical therapies. Whether discussing blood-thinning bats and electric fish or pondering the power of cooperation, Pagán reveals the surprising lessons found in some of life's natural oddities and how the tactics they employ to live might aid our own survival.
Chapter 1: The E Word
Chapter 2: The Language of Life
Chapter 3: It All Starts with a Spark
Chapter 4: Unusual Suspects
Chapter 5: The Fast and the Hangry
Chapter 6: The Very Best Survival Tactic of Them All
Dr Oné R. Pagán is a husband and a father, as well as a biology professor, scientist, blogger, and writer. He is in absolute awe of the natural world, especially the fact that it can be understood through science and mathematics. He spends quite a bit of his time explaining science to family, students, and essentially anyone within earshot. He also loves learning about nature firsthand through his scientific research. He has published original work in various scientific journals including the International Journal of Developmental Biology, Neuroscience Letters, Toxicon, Neurochemical Research, and Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior among others. He holds an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences and a Master's degree in Biochemistry, both from the University of Puerto Rico, and a Doctorate in Pharmacology with a strong emphasis in neurobiology, from Cornell University.
"Strange Survivors presents some of the most remarkable examples of animals' survival mechanisms in an accessible, scientifically accurate, and humorous way. Reading this book was like sitting down to enjoy a chat on the wonders of the natural world with a close friend."
– Marie McNeely, PhD, cofounder of People Behind the Science and Unfold Productions
"Strange Survivors is technically accurate and isn't shy with scientific terms, but never in a manner that's intimidating or overbearing. This isn't fiction – you have to think as you read, but the reward is an increased understanding of the astonishing variety of life on Earth and the strategies species use to survive."
– Peter Cawdron, author of Anomaly