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The Secret Social Lives of Reptiles

J. Sean Doody, Vladimir Dinets, and Gordon M. Burghardt

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Covering diverse species from garter snakes to Komodo dragons, this book delves into the evolutionary origins and fascinating details of the mysterious social lives of reptiles.

Reptiles have been too often dismissed as dull animals with tiny brains and simple, "asocial" lives. In reality, reptiles engage in a remarkable diversity of complex social behavior. They can live in families; communicate with one another while still in the egg; and hunt, feed, migrate, court, mate, nest, and hatch in groups. In The Secret Social Lives of Reptiles, J. Sean Doody, Vladimir Dinets, and Gordon M. Burghardt…

Covering diverse species from garter snakes to Komodo dragons, this book delves into the evolutionary origins and fascinating details of the mysterious social lives of reptiles.

Reptiles have been too often dismissed as dull animals with tiny brains and simple, "asocial" lives. In reality, reptiles engage in a remarkable diversity of complex social behavior. They can live in families; communicate with one another while still in the egg; and hunt, feed, migrate, court, mate, nest, and hatch in groups. In The Secret Social Lives of Reptiles, J. Sean Doody, Vladimir Dinets, and Gordon M. Burghardt—three of the world's leading experts on reptiles—bring together a wave of new research with a synthesis of classic studies to produce the only authoritative look at the social behaviors of the most provocative animals on the planet.

The book covers turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodilians, and the enigmatic tuatara. Enhanced with dozens of images, it takes readers through a myriad of social interactions, tendencies, and intimacies ranging from fierce territorial battles to delicate paternal care and from promiscuous pairings to monogamous partnerships. This unique text

• explains why reptiles have been neglected as subjects of social behavior studies;
• provides numerous examples across all major reptilian groups that overturn the false paradigm of "solitary" reptiles;
• explores the sensory, genetic, physiological, life history, and other factors underlying social behavior in reptiles;
• presents the case that evolutionary "experiments" found among reptiles offer unparalleled opportunities for understanding how and why social behavior evolves in animals; and
• identifies new and developing areas of research helping to reshape our view of reptiles.

Revealing the secrets of reptilian social relationships through original quantitative research, field studies, laboratory experiments, and careful analysis of the literature, The Secret Social Lives of Reptiles elevates these fascinating animals to key players in the science of behavioral ecology.

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The Secret Social Lives of Reptiles

J. Sean Doody, Vladimir Dinets, and Gordon M. Burghardt

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Reviews

Reviews

The authors show that many ideas about reptile behavior are based more on folklore and bias than science. They review the research and present findings in highly readable accounts, demonstrating that reptiles interact with each other in surprising and intricate ways. The Secret Social Lives of Reptiles reveals, once again, that life on this planet is far more stunning than we can imagine.

Science writing about family lives in turtles, snakes and crocodilians promises a much needed corrective to our assumptions about 'lowly' reptiles.

This is an excellent book on an underappreciated topic. The coverage is thorough and the insights are sharp, as is to be expected from a group of authors with tremendous expertise in the social behavior of diverse groups of reptiles.

This landmark book is the first to review in detail the comparative social behavior of reptiles. Many readers will be surprised to learn about how complex and variable reptilian behavior can be and that outdated myths about how greatly they are pre-programmed are just that—myths.

Watch out, mammologists and ornithologists, here come the behavioral herpetologists, and there are a lot of us! This wonderful, up-to-date review of modern studies of reptile sociality and related behavioral themes will be much read and much used, and I hope it will serve to stimulate new, fresh studies.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
440
ISBN
9781421440675
Illustration Description
25 color photos, 1 color illus, 15 b&w photos, 9 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Foreword, by Gordon W. Schuett
Preface
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1. Social Behavior Research: Its History and a Role for Reptiles
Chapter 2. Reptile Evolution and Biology
Chapter 3. Mating Systems, Social

Foreword, by Gordon W. Schuett
Preface
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1. Social Behavior Research: Its History and a Role for Reptiles
Chapter 2. Reptile Evolution and Biology
Chapter 3. Mating Systems, Social Structure, and Social Organization
Chapter 4. Communication
Chapter 5. Courtship and Mating
Chapter 6. Communal Egg-Laying: Habitat Saturation or Conspecific Attraction?
Chapter 7. Parental Care
Chapter 8. Hatching and Emergence: A Perspective from the Underworld 
Chapter 9. Behavioral Development in Reptiles: Too Little Known but Not Too Late
Chapter 10. The Reach of Sociality: Feeding, Thermoregulation, Predator Avoidance, and Habitat Choice
Chapter 11. Looking toward the Future
References
Index

Author Bios
Featured Contributor

J. Sean Doody, Ph.D.

J. Sean Doody is an assistant professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida. He is the coauthor of The Australian Pig-Nose Turtle.
Featured Contributor

Vladimir Dinets, Ph.D.

Vladimir Dinets is a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a visiting researcher at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. He is the author of Dragon Songs: Love and Adventure among Crocodiles, Alligators, and Other Dinosaur Relations.
Featured Contributor

Gordon M. Burghardt Ph.D.

Gordon M. Burghardt is an Alumni Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of The Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits.