Every Living Thing: Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys

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Harper Collins, 2009 - Science - 272 pages
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Biologists and laypeople alike have repeatedly claimed victory over life. A thousand years ago we thought we knew almost everything; a hundred years ago, too. But even today, Rob Dunn argues, discoveries we can't yet imagine still await.

In a series of vivid portraits of single-minded scientists, Dunn traces the history of human discovery, from the establishment of classification in the eighteenth century to today's attempts to find life in space. The narrative telescopes from a scientist's attempt to find one single thing (a rare ant-emulating beetle species) to another scientist's attempt to find everything in a small patch of jungle in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. With poetry and humor, Dunn reminds readers how tough and exhilarating it is to study the natural world, and why it matters.


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User Review  - satyridae - LibraryThing

I really enjoyed this book, which looks at scientists through the ages, many of whom are more than a little bit dotty. Especially Linnaeus, of course. I learned a lot about archaea and nanobacteria ... Read full review

Every living thing: man's obsessive quest to catalog life, from nanobacteria to new monkeys

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Science writer Dunn (ecology, North Carolina State Univ.) and his wife were collecting insect and plant species in Bolivia and learning the names from natives when he became interested in the search ... Read full review


Common Names
The Invisible World
Part II
Part III
Origin Stories
Looking Out
To Squeeze Life from a Stone
The Wrong Elephant?
What Remains

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About the author (2009)

Rob Dunn is an assistant professor in the department of zoology at the North Carolina State University.

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