Posted by: Green Knight | September 13, 2010

Parasites

I just read a fascinating 2000 book by Carl Zimmer, an editor of Discover magazine, called “Parasite Rex,” dealing with the history, biology, evolution, and study of the various parasitic single and multicelled animals, plants, and fungi over the last few hundred years.  From being considered degenerate and beneath contempt by biologists, and as causes of diseases but not worthy of study as lifeforms in their own right by medicos, it’s only recently that parasites (generally excluding bacteria and viruses) have come to be understood as major players in the game of life.  It’s now estimated that there are about four times as many parasite species as free-living ones, and that they have and continue to play a major part in their own evolution and that of their hosts.  I was alternately horrified and intrigued by this well written and thought-provoking piece of journalism.  Check it out!

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