Excerpt from The Wild Life of Our Bodies by Rob Dunn, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Wild Life of Our Bodies

Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today

by Rob Dunn

The Wild Life of Our Bodies
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2011, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2014, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Bakhul's story has lived on through the writing of Jim Corbett, the great hunter of man-eating animals. It was Corbett who would eventually come to try to find Bakhul and then to kill the tiger. The longer story of humans and predators, though, is embedded in our bodies, in our genes and their products, in particular in a network of ancient cells in our brains called the amygdala. The amygdala is connected to both the more ancient and the more modern parts of our brains. It, along with the adrenal system, is caught halfway between our deep past and the present. From there, it urges us into action or contemplation, depending on the circumstances. If you feel any eagerness on behalf of Bakhul, any modest restlessness for resolution of her story, an interest that perhaps even sent a chill or two down your arms, it was because of your amygdala and its signals. But more generally, it was because you are descended from a long line of individuals who escaped being eaten, at least long enough to mate, a lineage going back not just to grandma but to lizards and then even further. Your heart pounds harder when you are afraid (or angry, a point to which we will return) because of the pulleys and levers of your adrenal glands and the signals sent from your amygdala to your brain stem, that even more primitive root of our actions and wants. This system, sometimes called the fear module, evolved primarily to help us deal with predators, whether by flight or, less often, at least historically, fight, but it's a finicky system that can be aroused at the mere idea of a threat. Fear, or at least the urge that precedes it, may even be our default reaction to our surroundings. Some elements of our amygdalae appear to constantly send out signals to our bodies that we are afraid. Most of the time, other parts of the amygdala suppress those signals. But when we see, hear, or experience something that triggers fear, the suppression is released and fear courses through us, instantly, like a bomb in our brain.

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from The Wild Life of Our Bodies by Rob Dunn. Copyright © 2011 by Rob Dunn. Excerpted by permission of Harper. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Human Microbes

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...
  • Book Jacket: Miss Jane
    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson
    National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson returns with an intimate novel about one woman's journey to...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Secret Language of Stones
    by M. J. Rose

    "A fantastic historical tale of war, love, loss and intrigue."
    – Melanie Benjamin

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Falling
    by Jane Green

    "Readers who enjoy a love story with heart will adore this tale of homecoming and transformation." - LJ

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!