Life in the Undergrowth

Author: David Attenborough (2005), Princeton University Press, New Jersey, USA

This is the Companion Book to the Animal Planet Program (Spring 2006).  It ia also available on

Invertebrates are the topic of this well illustrated book that can only lead to an increased respect (and awe) for insects.  The photos make it a page turner before even getting a chance to read the text.  If it's not in your nature to look at all the photos first, I  suggest that you do anyway, as well as turning to the evolutionary chart at the back of the book.  The chart shows the invasion of invertebrates from water to land to air.  This endlessly fascinating book is mostly about insects but it begins with the horseshoe crab to illustrate the evolution of invertebrates onto land.  The diverse strategies in each chapter are surprising; nature never ceases to amaze.  For example, the section on silk spinners goes far beyond spider webs to show the myriad ways insects use silk. 

The book is organized using the following chapters: 

  1. The invasion of the land
  2. The first to fly
  3. The silk spinners
  4. Intimate relations
  5. Supersocieties

I'm not sure if these categories were deliberately chosen to briefly summarize the history of human civilization, but the astounding insect adaptations described are bio-inspiring. It's not hard to come up with parallels to human activities or to be inspired by these small but mighty creatures. 

Additional information can be found on the GoodReads site.

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