OVERRIDE

Animal Weapons

The Evolution of Battle

Douglas J. Emlen; Illustrated by David J. Tuss

Henry Holt and Co.

The story behind the stunning, extreme weapons we see in the animal world--teeth and horns and claws--and what they can tell us about the way humans develop and use arms and other weapons

In Animal Weapons, Doug Emlen takes us outside the lab and deep into the forests and jungles where he’s been studying animal weapons in nature for years, to explain the processes behind the most intriguing and curious examples of extreme animal weapons—fish with mouths larger than their bodies and bugs whose heads are so packed with muscle they don’t have room for eyes. As singular and strange as some of the weapons we encounter on these pages are, we learn that similar factors set their evolution in motion. Emlen uses these patterns to draw parallels to the way we humans develop and employ our own weapons, and have since battle began. He looks at everything from our armor and camouflage to the evolution of the rifle and the structures human populations have built across different regions and eras to protect their homes and communities. With stunning black and white drawings and gorgeous color illustrations of these concepts at work, Animal Weapons brings us the complete story of how weapons reach their most outsized, dramatic potential, and what the results we witness in the animal world can tell us about our own relationship with weapons of all kinds. 

MEDIA

Watch

  • The Healthiest Beetles Grow the Biggest Horns

    Douglas Emlen describes his research investigating the evolutionary processes at work in the amply-horned Japanese rhinoceros beetle—and reports that the difference between a big horn and a small horn may come down to nutrition and fitness.

  • Douglas Emlen on writing Animal Weapons

    Douglas Emlen discusses 'Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle.'

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REVIEWS

Praise for Animal Weapons

"A great deal of the living world really is red in tooth and claw. That important principle has needed a real biologist to illustrate and explain it, now accomplished dramatically by Emlen's Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle." —Edward O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist, Harvard University

"One of our leading evolutionary biologists, Doug Emlen, delves into the deep meaning of entities as different as beetle horns and medieval castles, to take the reader on a joyous ride of discovery about nature and the human experience. Animal Weapons is an authoritative, knowledgeable, and epic narrative of one of the dominant themes of life on earth, including our own. Emlen's curiosity, passion, and storytelling prowess make this magisterial little volume leap from the page."—Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish

"This is a great read not only for the stories of conflicts and weaponry in a diversity of animals, but also for the history of human weaponry, and the highly relevant message about arms races the author reads from both."—Bernd Heinrich, author of Winter World and Why We Run

"Animal Weapons is must read, especially those of us who are interested and concerned about human weapons development. As Douglas Emlen shows definitively, arms races are not something we as a species invented, but instead the most natural thing in the world."—Robert L. O’Connell, author of The Ghosts of Cannae and Fierce Patriot

"Doug Emlen has done a superb job of bringing together the stories of animal and human weapons. He makes the biology behind the evolution of weapons understandable for this soldier and engineer, and convincingly illustrates the human animal’s problems in controlling or avoiding catastrophe in the age of weapons of mass destruction." —Lieutenant General John Myers

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Douglas J. Emlen; Illustrated by David J. Tuss

  • Douglas J. Emlen is the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering from the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, multiple research awards from the National Science Foundation, including their five-year CAREER award, and a Young Investigator Prize and the E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award from the American Society of Naturalists. His research has been featured in outlets including the New York Times and National Public Radio’s Fresh Air. He is a professor at the University of Montana.

    David J. Tuss is a graphic artist who specializes in blending technical accuracy with vivid, lifelike compositions. His work is also featured in textbooks, scientific articles, and technical biology papers. He lives in Helena, Montana, where he works as a wilderness ranger, natural science illustrator, and public school science and art teacher.

  • Douglas J. Emlen Laurie Lane Studios
  • David J. Tuss Anne Seliskar
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Available Formats and Book Details

Animal Weapons

The Evolution of Battle

Douglas J. Emlen; Illustrated by David J. Tuss

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Henry Holt and Co.

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