Spider Silk (Paperback)
Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating
Yale University Press, 9780300181463, 248pp.
Publication Date: March 14, 2012
Spiders, objects of eternal human fascination, are found in many places: on the ground, in the air, and even under water. Leslie Brunetta and Catherine Craig have teamed up to produce a substantive yet entertaining book for anyone who has ever wondered, as a spider rappelled out of reach on a line of silk, “How do they do that?”
The orb web, that iconic wheel-shaped web most of us associate with spiders, contains at least four different silk proteins, each performing a different function and all meshing together to create a fly-catching machine that has amazed and inspired humans through the ages. Brunetta and Craig tell the intriguing story of how spiders evolved over 400 million years to add new silks and new uses for silk to their survival “toolkit” and, in the telling, take readers far beyond the orb. The authors describe the trials and triumphs of spiders as they use silk to negotiate an ever-changing environment, and they show how natural selection acts at the genetic level and as individuals struggle for survival.
About the Author
Leslie Brunetta is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in the New York Times, Technology Review, and the Sewanee Review; on NPR; and elsewhere. Catherine L. Craig is an internationally recognized evolutionary biologist, arachnologist, and authority on silk.
Praise For Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating…
— Simon Barnes
". . . an ideal introduction to spiders and a tempting peek at the field of silk research that. . . will leave the reader forever fascinated and enthused by these wonderful web weavers."--BioScience
— Simon Levin
"From black widows to balloon-riders and bola-swingers, spider evolution depends critically on a few proteins in silk. Brunetta and Craig weave genetics and behavior into a silky-smooth portrait of this fascinating group."—Richard Wrangham, Harvard University, author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human
— Richard Wrangham
— Meg Lowman
"In Spider Silk, Leslie Brunetta and Catherine Craig offer a history of this marvelous stuff that readers will find surprisingly compelling—for not only the astonishing complexity of spider silk itself, but also the many uses that spiders have created over the ages. It is, in other words, the epitome of evolutionary innovation."—Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex and The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution
— Carl Zimmer
— Tibor Fischer
— Tim R. New
'This is a compelling and immensely readable account that engages the reader from start to finish…A helpful index is also included, and a series of colour plates illustrate some of the book's subjects and themes…This well-produced book is a valuable and enjoyable contribution to fostering awareness of spider evolution…Buy it for your own interest, or as a gift for your favourite arachnophobe - you might just make a convert!' Tim R. New, Journal Of Insect Conservation (Australia)
— Tim R.
"Spider Silk weaves together principles of genetics, biochemistry and evolution to explain the diversity and function of spider’s silks. This book is a model for next generation biology texts."—Cynthia Sagers, University of Arkansas
— Cynthia Sagers
— Sue Howarth
— Ben Hoare
— Boston Authors Club Highly Recommended Book
— 2010 Book of the Year Award in Nature
Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2011 in the Zoology category.
— Choice Outstanding Academic Title
— Rachael A. Carmen
— Ruth Grierson