The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies

The Superorganism The Beauty Elegance and Strangeness of Insect Societies The Superorganism promises to be one of the most important scientific works published in this decade Coming eighteen years after the publication of The Ants this new volume expands our knowledge of t

  • Title: The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies
  • Author: Bert Hölldobler Edward O. Wilson
  • ISBN: 9780393067040
  • Page: 128
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Superorganism promises to be one of the most important scientific works published in this decade Coming eighteen years after the publication of The Ants, this new volume expands our knowledge of the social insects among them, ants, bees, wasps, and termites and is based on remarkable research conducted mostly within the last two decades These superorganisms a tightThe Superorganism promises to be one of the most important scientific works published in this decade Coming eighteen years after the publication of The Ants, this new volume expands our knowledge of the social insects among them, ants, bees, wasps, and termites and is based on remarkable research conducted mostly within the last two decades These superorganisms a tightly knit colony of individuals, formed by altruistic cooperation, complex communication, and division of labor represent one of the basic stages of biological organization, midway between the organism and the entire species The study of the superorganism, as the authors demonstrate, has led to important advances in our understanding of how the transitions between such levels have occurred in evolution and how life as a whole has progressed from simple to complex forms Ultimately, this book provides a deep look into a part of the living world hitherto glimpsed by only a very few.

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    1 thought on “The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies”

    1. The social insects are amazing. I'm completely dumbfounded that all my life these creatures were below my feet communicating through complex pheromone trails, or that they were flying through the air with complete instructions to a nectar source by following the sun, and I was completely in the dark. (!)Not in the dark of their existence completely, but largely ignorant of their world. And I can't help but draw parallels from the world of people. I've similarly been equally oblivious to the nonv [...]

    2. This was a pretty good book. Ants and other social insects display a huge array of fascinating behaviors, and this book notes many of them. However, that is not primarily the purpose of this book like it was in Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration by the same authors. This book is about the way that simple insect behaviors lead to complex colony behaviors. There is considerable emphasis on how the colony structure changes the "calculus" of gene propagation and selective pressur [...]

    3. Readers can climb on the giant, sturdy shoulders of Dr. Wilson and take a refreshing view of the fascinating world of ants and other social insects. The detailed description of these species and their communal behaviors written in lucid and engaging tone is one thing, but what really thrilled me was Dr. Wilson's insight and philosophy about our own kind in relation to our surroundings and fellow living beings.

    4. Se si escludono le prime 150 pagine (su 444 più le note) che sono adatte ad evoluzionisti e genetisti, il libro è una vera bomba! Certi comportamenti sociali di molte specie di formiche e non solo, fanno impallidire quelli umani, quando li considera inferiori spesso solo per una questione di dimensioni o di classe. Parafrasando Alberto Sordi in "Detenuto in attesa di giudizio" noi siamo gli esseri superiori, ma superiori a chi?

    5. Heard about this on Science Friday today. E. O. Wilson said "Socialism does work. Marx had it rightHe just had the wrong species."

    6. A fantastic book about insect communities and how they interact and how they evolved, but it is not an easy read and not for someone with a casual interest.

    7. Chapter 1 - The Construction of a Super-OrganismEusocial insects are very successful. In one rain forest sample, social insects made up 80 % of the insects. Ants and termites made up 30 % of the animal biomass. Ants alone weighed four times as much as the mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.Although ants are a million times smaller than humans, they are a million times more plentiful, and so the mass of humans is roughly equal to that of the ants.Generally, social insects control the centre [...]

    8. This book is actually for the bee or ants specialists to read, because it goes into really very details for different kinds of ants/bees colonies behaviors. The dances are different while finding flowers, need more process workers, the fighting gestures of different kinds of antsc.It won't be fun to those who just want to understand overall the superorganism, since we don't actually know these many different types of ants or bees.The big points of this kind of superorganism is they live accordin [...]

    9. Turns out this is more of a textbook than general nonfiction, but nevertheless there is an abundance of amazing information about eusocial insects and the unique ways they organize and thrive. How can ants move branches and reshape trees to host their nests? How does one termite know what to do and when so it's most useful to the colony? How do bees communicate? (Spoiler: By dancing.)Holldobler and Wilson provide a compelling reminder that humanity is not the only accomplished species on this pl [...]

    10. I have started reading. The subject is fascinating: the evolution of superorganisms of eusocial animals where division of labor is highly specialized and where individuals are not able to survive by themselves for extended periods of time. Having read some tens of pages it is clear that as I continue I will be reading, by virtue of my intellectual and knowledge deficiencies, at a superficial level as opposed to a technical or critical one. I am sure that it will be instructive even at that level [...]

    11. Man, this was a majorly heavy book. I pulled a muscle lifting it -- I kid you not. Use both hands lifting this mammajamma and keep your knees bent. Insects that live in colonies is such a fascinating subject. I do hope that someone who can write tackles this subject instead of E. O. Wilson and Bert Hölldobler. Yes, they are acknowledged giants in their field, but cannot write their way out of a wet paper bag. Here's a sentence (just ONE sentence, mind) from page 200:"The workers also employ a s [...]

    12. Interesting but flawed book that goes into details of the organization of insect societies,focusing on topics such as communication and labor division.First, some good parts: the material is fascinating. The text is organized well, and the authors clearly have a deep knowledge of the topic. The book includes many pictures and diagrams that help clarify the text, and are also simply wonderful to look at.Now, some negatives: the tone of the text seemed to be a little out-of-place. The authors have [...]

    13. This amazing book by two prominent entomologists (insect biologists) takes us into the insect realm we’ve all had buzzing around us our whole lives but perhaps not truly understood. Did you know that honey bees exhibit a highly skilled form of dance communication? When they leave the nest honey bees disperse in all directions on their quest for flowers and pollen. If an individual honey bee finds a new pollen source then when they return to the nest they enter upon ‘the dance floor’ and pe [...]

    14. This book is a slog. The authors claim it can be enjoyed by the "general reader," but it contains a great deal of jargon (with a glossary that often did not define the terms that confused me,) and the writing can be opaque: "Regular play of the recipient's palpi on the donor's labium keeps he liquid flowing until the food exchange is interuped by either one or both trophallaxis partners." But it's worth the effort. The book is a review of new research that sheds light on the evolutionary origin [...]

    15. They seemed to not really have a clear idea of who their intended audience was, and couldn't settle on what level of prior knowledge to address. Thusly, they never explained some basics, leaving me to wonder where the hell on the classification hierarchy a 'tribe' is, and yet reiterated other rather simple things over and over again. In fact, the decision of whether and when to define terms was completely at random. I love learning about ants, but it seemed rather undirected and even a little un [...]

    16. This reads as a mid-level textbook. I wasn't thrilled with the writing - I continually had to flip back and forth trying to find definitions which seemed to change from one page to the next - but the material is fascinating. There is a major focus in the early chapters about the evolutionary aspects and genetic underpinnings of insect social behaviors which was not particularly easy to follow, but worth the effort. The book does well in going beyond the mere osbservance of altruistic insect beha [...]

    17. A fantastic tome on the concept of superorganisms. Wilson and Hölldobler begin by discussing the history of the idea of superorganisms, and the theoretical framework for how and why superorganisms evolve. The rest of the book is filled with examples of how natural selection acts on the level of the colony/superorganism, and the fascinating ways that various species deal with that selection.This is a wonderful work, with gorgeous pictures, which provides a great peek into the very foreign world [...]

    18. I deeply enjoyed this book and intend to re-read it soon. I count this pair old mentors, and have a few of the books by W/H. This one examines the nature of individuality and identity in extended relational hypersystems sch as hive bodies and their extensions. It is excellent, if a bit timid about breaking any well-established paradigms. Nonetheles, really enjoyable and informative. Withstands multiple readings well, and some of the material on reproductive and signalling behaviors is particular [...]

    19. A very dense book, though still very readable, by Bert Holldobler and E.O. Wilson. I was left with a deep and profound amazement about the life of ants and social insects, and a realization of just how much more there is to learn about these creatures, and the very nature of organisms, evolution, and natural selection. The writing is a little dry, but you can still feel E.O. Wilson and Bert Holldobler's excitement and passion for one of the most complex biological systems in the world, the super [...]

    20. I am primarily interested in honeybees I skimmed this book, as it is mostly about ants. Very interesting information, but is probably not for everyone. It is somewhat academic, most of it based on journal literature. If you are accustomed to reading scientific journals or work in academia you will not have a problem, however the casual reader may find this book somewhat intimidating. I had hoped this book would have covered more about honeybees.

    21. For anyone interested in superorganisms as both colonies of ants, hives of bees, and, perhaps, our entire ecosystem, environment and other ways we now collectively "think" with current means of "sharing" and being "social". Also for those who question the idea of "free will" and, it goes without saying, entomomaniacs. I'll pick up this book regularly; as long as it remains on my coffee table.

    22. An extraordinary follow-up to The Ants, the authoritative book on social insects that has driven the emergence meme in applications of networks to human problems. E.O. Wilson and Bert Holldobler provide clear and illuminating explanations of the simple actions that add up to a superorganism, emphasizing the role of individual action and evolution in defining the complex responses a colony produces in nature.

    23. While certainly fascinating, there is a tendency in this book to reduce the emergent properties of life at the level of the organism to mere automata. It's a useful platform from which to build an understanding of collective being, so long as one remembers that this book is mapping particular ways of relating and not all ways of relating.

    24. I had to return this to the library before I really got into it. It looked like a very interesting subject and premise. I'm always a sucker for the various metaphors which this calls to life (man/city, cell/body, etc.) This book is obviously written well above my comprehension or attention level for science writing, but I would like to give it another shot.

    25. I loves me some bugs, and there's plenty of 'em in here. Yet this is very much more a textbook than a ripping good science read. And not being a myrmecologist nor apiarist, I found it awfully technical and packed far too full of all the various experiments on all of the various species to really get into. So, brilliantly researched, just not so much for readers outside the field of study.

    26. This was certainly over my head, but readable none the less. I now know how bees communicate food location and distance, the waggle dance, how antz communicate trails. I never imagined so many seperate phermone glands, each with its own unique chemistry for just that oh so special meaning. And above all else DO NOT give ants the bomb.

    27. Superb book.Many excellent illustrations and color photos.Covers many social insects but there is a definite emphasis on ants, not surprising given the authors' previous Pulitzer Prize winning book on ants.I read the library copy, but worth buying, since it is a book that is worth reading many times.

    28. Interessante, mi è piaciuto conoscere alcuni aspetti della vita, comportamento ed evoluzione di formiche ed api.Però, da neofita ho trovato impegnativo leggere varie parti del libro, contenenti informazioni adatte ad uno specialista

    29. I was really excited about the idea of this book but it was too dry and technical for my taste. There are more interesting books about insects out there.

    30. Didn't finish, because it is really heavy reading--for anyone who wants to know the excruitiating details of ant life. But I got a couple of things to share with my class from it.

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