Animals can build amazing structures. Termite mounds are (in relation to their builder) three times as high as sky scrapers, birds can make beautiful nests and spiders can weave webs that can catch their prey.
He explains how animals with small brains build complex structures by repeated simple actions many times and by using their bodily excretes. These excretes are very specific and well-developed.
The book includes a discussion on wasp nests, leaf-cutting ants, caddis flies and amoebae. Spider webs are analysed biochemically and mechanically, and the construction of a wasp nest is simulated with computer models.
Also the bower bird, who builds his future mate a decorated pile of twigs, baubles, feathers and berries, is discussed. The author wonders whether animals may also have a sense of beauty.
Hansell is emeritus professor Animal Architecture at the University of Glasgow.
Built by animals, the natural history of animal architecture
Oxford University Press, 2007