From New Scientist:
THE evolutionary history of life on Earth is usually told from a vertebrate-centric point of view: the progression from fish to amphibians to reptiles to mammals to apes, culminating with humans.
But Scott Richard Shaw wants none of that. Mammals, he writes in Planet of the Bugs, are “just one unlikely sidebar on the history of life”. The main story is about the millions of species of insects that dominate the planet, both in number and in ecological importance. So Shaw provides an insect-centred view of life’s evolution. Chapter by chapter, he moves through the great geologic periods, providing each one with an entomological spin.
Thus the Silurian period, traditionally regarded as an “Age of Fishes” is recast as the time when insects’ ancestors became the first animals to venture on to land. The Jurassic, famed for its huge, long-necked dinosaurs, achieves its real fame for Shaw as the birthdate of wasps, a vastly more diverse group of animals.
How soon do readers think we will get round to “life forms-centric,” a narrow and irrational preference for the histories of living things and their artifacts, as opposed to non-living ones.
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