From Publishers Weekly
Friend, a longtime USA Today science writer, has written a delightful, entertaining and instructive book for the general public on animal communication. All kinds of animal lovers will enjoy his presentation of "the bigger picture" of animal talk in the wild-"how animals communicate with each other and what they spend so much time chattering to each other about." Friend provides readers with clear explanations of complex issues such as how the colorful and noisy signals of communication in the animal kingdom arose in the first place and to what extent animal systems of communication are similar to human language. Along the way, he impressively explores a wide range of related topics, such as how Descartes and Darwin influenced the study of animal sounds, the mating purpose of animal songs and the roots of whale communication research in Cold War technology. Friend is an engaging writer; throughout he displays a deft ability to capture the world of animal sound with just the right phrase, such as his description of tree frogs and insects in the Amazon rainforest "laying down a soulful energetic chorus like a choir at an old-fashioned, Southern tent revival," and his wry observation of rival male albatrosses attracting potential female mates by "clapping their beaks and moving their heads like Mick Jagger."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School–A science reporter shows how a "new generation of scientists" has been "contributing to an increasingly rich appreciation for the intelligence and emotions that lie behind… animal eyes." Though it seems obvious now that life-forms evolving together on the same planet could be expected to have much in common, Western culture has denied human kinship with animals. Friend outlines the origins and fallacies behind the old beliefs; he also draws a distinction between anthropomorphizing and figuring out what people have in common with other species. A growing school of thought asserts that there is "one language with few words, and all species, including humans, continue to use it every day." Friend says that the sole topics of conversation, "regardless of race or species, [are] sex, real estate, who's boss, and what's for dinner." He illustrates his thesis with clear explanations of the science behind fascinating and far-ranging discoveries throughout the world and among many species. Much of the new knowledge has been made possible by new technology that allows us to detect, record, and analyze signals that were formerly beyond our perception, such as electrical signals or inaudible sounds. The information is organized into chapters such as "The Chemistry of Love," "Songs and Shouts," and "Flash and Dance," and the pages containing unexpurgated information about randy dolphin behavior, same-sex relationships in many species, wild elephant parties, and human pheromones will appeal to teens.–Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
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