The creative building activity of animals of all species is surveyed in text, drawings, and photographs in this beautiful book. With the ease that comes of his unrivaled grasp of the subject matter, Professor von Frisch, Nobel Laureate, unfolds the marvels of instinct and inventiveness among insects, birds, mammals.
Well ahead of human technicians, termites created various systems of air-conditioning, dug wells to a depth of 120 feet, built central cities with satellite suburbs and highways to their place of work.
Wasps may have taught the Indians the art of manipulating clay and have shown the Chinese how to make paper.
Birds construct delicately and colorfully decorated bowers to attract the females they are wooing.
From time immemorial, animals ingeniously used stone, wood, reeds, clay, and wax as building material. They invented hinged doors, traps, shelters with overhanging roofs, cells with waterproof lining. The precision of their architectural skills frequently surpasses that of human architects.
In his Foreword, Professor von Frisch describes his aim and his method: “I have tried to be generally intelligible, for the book is chiefly intended for the non-specialized audience. If the public at large knew more about the workings of nature, it would help to protect our living environment against the destruction that threatens it.
“To understand the building activities of animals it is necessary to know something about the lives of the builders. Therefore the behavior of animals always enters the discussion, though only in modest outline, so as not to encroach on the space required for the main theme.”
Richly illustrated, this is an enthralling book for practically everybody.
Karl von Frisch, a pioneer in the science of ethology – the comparative study of animal behavior – was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1973. His career began with the study of bees and culminated in his discovery of their mode of communication. He is the author of The Dancing Bees: An Account of the Life and Senses of the Honeybee, Man and the Living World, an explanation of biology for the general reader, and Dance Language and Orientation of Bees.
Professor Otto von Frisch, his son and collaborator, is the author of Animal Camouflage and Animal Migration.