Written by Ann Downer
This fascinating book asks the question “What is intelligence?” There are many examples of beings that lack a spinal column being able reason and learn. Each chapter outlines the life of a different beast and how it qualifies for the distinction “intelligent.” Charles Darwin was captivated by worms. Ordinary earthworms will increase activity in response to music. They cover the entrances to burrows with pebbles. They will learn to avoid the areas of mazes where electric shocks are introduced and vibrations similar to those made by predators. Jumping spiders know many different ways to approach their prey and can reason out which approach to use. Octopuses are unbelievable escape artists. Honey bees are great communicators. Paper wasps can recognize a friend’s face. Argentine ants build megacolonies. Mantis shrimps are fast and, more importantly, accurate predators. Box jellyfish can accurately navigate mazes. Slime molds seem to form giant brains. Tarantula hawk wasps will measure their prey before digging a hole to bury it for food for hatching babies.
The best use for this book is as a resource. It is so packed full of information, the student will want to return again and again to pick up the details for further study. Sixth grade literacy skills will be enhanced by the frequent use of scientific terms and by the excellent organization of the text. Throughout, the author highlights recent scientific studies. The numerous photos are wonderful illustrations.
- Title: Smart and Spineless: Exploring Invertebrate Intelligence
- Author: Ann Downer
- Published: Twenty First Century Books, August, 2015
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 88 pages
- Grade Level: 6 up
- Genre: Nonfiction, animals
- ISBN: 978-1-4677-3739-5
- Extras: Table of Contents, Source Notes, Glossary, Selected Bibliography, extensive For Further Information section, Index, About the Author, Author Acknowledgments, Photo Acknowledgments