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Good Reads  Organismal to Molecular Biology  Ethology

The Social Lives of Animals How Co-Operation Conquered the Natural World

Popular Science
By: Ashley Ward(Author)
400 pages
Publisher: Profile Books
The Social Lives of Animals
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  • The Social Lives of Animals ISBN: 9781788168854 Paperback Jan 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
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About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Swarms, herds, flocks, troops, schools, colonies, clans: animals like to stick together. Sometimes their societies hold a mirror up to the human world. Did you know that rats will go out of their way to help a cold, wet stranger? That ants farm edible fungus in special gardens? That pinyon jays run collective creches? Or that elephants hold funerals for departed family members? At other times, their lifestyles can seem intensely alien, such as when locusts surge over the land in their millions, unable to slow down for a moment because the hungry ranks behind them will literally bite their legs off if they don't stay out of reach. (Actually, you probably do know a few people like that.)

But no matter how offputting an animal might be, behavioural scientist Ashley Ward can usually find something worth celebrating about it. Travelling the world from the Serengeti to the frozen Antarctic ocean, with stops in the muddy fields and streams of his native northern England, he brings his curious eye and infectious humour right down to their level. The result is a world-expanding, myth-busting tour of some of nature's greatest marvels, in delightfully broad-minded company.

Customer Reviews


Born and bred in Yorkshire, Dr Ashley Ward is currently a professor in Animal Behaviour at the University of Sydney, the culmination of a career spent studying the behaviour of animals from tiny Antarctic krill to mammals, including humans. He has published over 100 scientific journal articles and a highly cited academic book. The Social Lives of Animals is his first trade book.

Popular Science
By: Ashley Ward(Author)
400 pages
Publisher: Profile Books
Media reviews

"Very striking [...] Ward has a good eye for details [...] he writes vividly"
Sunday Times

"Extraordinary stories in this fascinating book [...] any writer who can evoke the existential sadness of a lonely cockroach, or make krill thrilling, or describe a snorkelling colleague being engulfed in a "gargantuan cetacean bum detonation" is a real gift to science communication [...] thought-provoking"

"Reading [The Social Lives of Animals] is like entering a maze [...] with surprises awaiting the reader at every turn. What holds it all together is the author's natural gift for storytelling and penchant for punchy, provocative one-liners"
– Christoph Irmscher, Wall Street Journal

"A great antidote to the dog-eat-dog view of nature that we grew up with. Ashley Ward takes the reader on a personal journey of discovery to make clear that animals often depend on cooperation for survival"
– Frans de Waal, author of Mama's Last Hug

"From swarming krill and flocking birds to cattle herds and tribal chimpanzees, Ashley Ward reveals animals to be much more social than often thought. Part deep dive into the latest science and part personal storytelling, Ward's book shatters the old stereotype. This is not nature red in tooth and claw, but nature awash in cooperation and collaboration"
– Steve Brusatte, professor and palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh and New York Times/Sunday Times bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

"A thoughtful exploration of the complex minds that share the planet with us. Ashley Ward will give you a new appreciation for the bonds, emotions, and connections that we thought set us apart, but in reality, just bring us closer to the animal world"
– Vanessa Woods, New York Times bestselling author of Bonobo Handshake

"A big part of the book's appeal is just the strangeness and sophistication of this world of animal interactions, a nexus of cooperation and conflict that is all around us and yet mostly remains hidden from our view. Ward's stories compel us to see social animals, not just as marvels, but as kindred spirits. He wants us to empathize with them as fellow navigators of the unpredictable landscape of relationships. And, with a light hand, he succeeds"
– Alan de Queiroz, author of The Monkey's Voyage

"Brilliant [...] echoes Monty Python in asking – apart from intelligence, language, longevity, consciousness, reasoning, social learning and culture – what sociality has ever done for us."
Country Life

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