Book review: ‘Parasite Rex: Inside the bizarre world of nature's most dangerous creatures’ by Carl Zimmer

The weird and wonderful ways in which parasites make a living.

Parasite RexThis is a fascinating trip into the world of the parasite. The book's subtitle describes this world as bizarre, but the adjective hardly does it justice. If there's an ecological niche inside a potential host's body, there will be a parasite to fill it, it would seem. There are parasites that live only in the Achilles' tendons of deer; there are parasites whose life-cycles carry them from snail to ant to cow's liver; there are parasites that turn crabs into spayed zombies who nurture the parasites' own offspring.

If Nature really does have an intelligent designer*, then it's a designer with a twisted sicko's imagination.

The second half of the book descibes the evolutionary arms races that take place between parasite and host, and makes an interesting case for parasites' being a major factor in the evolution of life on earth.

* It doesn't, by the way.

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
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