The Wild Life of Our Bodies
Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today
Dr. Rob Dunn
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A biologist shows the influence of wild species on our well-being and the world and how nature still clings to us—and always will.
We evolved in a wilderness of parasites, mutualists, and pathogens, but we no longer see ourselves as being part of nature and the broader community of life. In the name of progress and clean living, we scrub much of nature off our bodies and try to remove whole kinds of life—parasites, bacteria, mutualists, and predators—to allow ourselves to live free of wild danger. Nature, in this new world, is the landscape outside, a kind of living painting that is pleasant to contemplate but nice to have escaped.
The truth, though, according to biologist Rob Dunn, is that while "clean living" has benefited us in some ways, it has also made us sicker in others. We are trapped in bodies that evolved to deal with the dependable presence of hundreds of other species. As Dunn reveals, our modern disconnect from the web of life has resulted in unprecedented effects that immunologists, evolutionary biologists, psychologists, and other scientists are only beginning to understand. Diabetes, autism, allergies, many anxiety disorders, autoimmune diseases, and even tooth, jaw, and vision problems are increasingly plaguing bodies that have been removed from the ecological context in which they existed for millennia.
In this eye-opening, thoroughly researched, and well-reasoned book, Dunn considers the crossroads at which we find ourselves. Through the stories of visionaries, Dunn argues that we can create a richer nature, one in which we choose to surround ourselves with species that benefit us, not just those that, despite us, survive.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
The kind of cross functional analysis that bridges worthy science with other worthy science
I greatly enjoyed Rob Dunn's examination of evolution in the context all the other species involved in the process. His prose is accessible and engaging. The research is thorough and well documented with a hefty chapter of footnotes detailing modern explorations that escape the pop science headlines of Internet culture. The concluding chapter offers something that smells like hope after the stink of doom that marks most screeds on environmental futures