Parasite Rex

Parasite Rex was a complex book describing the life of a parasite. In today's society, parasites are seen as useless creatures that live their lives at the expense of another's, but Carl Zimmer portrays them in a much different light. He brilliantly displays that parasites have received a poor reputation but are in fact a major contributor to life on earth today.
The beginning of the book describes how early scientists discovered parasites. Leeuwenhoek, Steenstrup and Koch, just to name a few, were the early scientists that discovered small creatures that seemed to infest others. One scientist, Ray Lankester, is responsible for parasite's vicious reputation. He studied the parasite known as Sacculina, a parasite that inhabits crabs. He thought that it was born as a free-living organism that degenerated into a parasite, giving up the majority of its body to inhabit the body of another. Zimmer proved that these scientists were wrong about the evolution of the Sacculina, when in fact they are not degenerates, but rather very complex life forms.
The book continues on to describe the lives of several other parasites. One group is known as blood flukes, which inhabit the liver. One fluke, Schistosoma mansoni, lives in snails as their intermediate host where it waits to get into a human. Like all parasites, Schistosoma is specially adapted to survive the turmoil of the human body. It can navigate inside the abdominal cavity as if it had a road map. Along side the blood fluke is mentioned other parasites including Hookworms, Tapeworms and Trichinella. Parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside caterpillars where they feed upon the guts and intestines, sparing the vital organs. One particular parasite mentioned is Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria and is transmitted by hungry mosquitoes. Plasmodium has a very complex way of infecting the body and like all parasites can gracefully evade the immune system.
The nex…

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