In the spring of 2005, cardiologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz was called to consult on an unusual patient: an Emperor tamarin at the Los Angeles Zoo. While examining the tiny monkey’s sick heart, she learned that wild animals can die of a form of cardiac arrest brought on by extreme emotional stress. It was a syndrome identical to a human condition but one that veterinarians called by a different name—and treated in innovative ways.
This remarkable medical parallel launched Natterson-Horowitz on a journey of discovery that reshaped her entire approach to medicine. She began to search for other connections between the human and animal worlds: Do animals get breast cancer, anxiety-induced fainting spells, sexually transmitted diseases? Do they suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia, addiction?
The answers were astonishing. Dinosaurs suffered from brain cancer. Koalas catch chlamydia. Reindeer seek narcotic escape in hallucinogenic mushrooms. Stallions self-mutilate. Gorillas experience clinical depression.
Joining forces with science journalist Kathryn Bowers, Natterson-Horowitz employs fascinating case studies and meticulous scholarship to present a revelatory understanding of what animals can teach us about the human body and mind. “Zoobiquity” is the term the authors have coined to refer to a new, species-spanning approach to health. Delving into evolution, anthropology, sociology, biology, veterinary science, and zoology, they break down the walls between disciplines, redefining the boundaries of medicine.
Zoobiquity explores how animal and human commonality can be used to diagnose, treat, and heal patients of all species. Both authoritative and accessible, offering cutting-edge research through captivating narratives, this provocative book encourages us to see our essential connection to all living beings.
“[Zoobiquity] will change medicine more than any new machine or drug.” —Randolph Nesse, M.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan and author of Why We Get Sick
“[Zoobiquity is] a ground-breaking book and essential reading for anyone interested in the connections between human and animal medicine. [It] throws a gauntlet out to the biomedical scientific and clinical community, urging it not to delay further, but instead to set up an effective research and development infrastructure to pilot and test new hypotheses and clinical approaches using this enhanced comparative model. It will be fascinating to see who comes forward to accept this challenge.” —Peter Rabinowitz, M.D.,Yale School of Medicine, and Director of Yale Human-Animal Medical Project
“If common ancestors with worms, fish, and apes lie in our past, then Zoobiquity points the way to our future. The connections we share with the rest of life on our planet are a source of beauty and, in Natterson-Horowitz and Bowers’ luminous new account, the inspiration for an emerging and powerful approach to human health. Zoobiquity is a book that explodes barriers and myths all in the purpose of bettering the human condition.” —Neil Shubin, paleontologist and author of Your Inner Fish
“Zoobiquity is full of fascinating stories of intersection between human and nonhuman medicine — fish that faint; dinosaur cancers; human treatments that cure dogs of melanoma; lessons from adolescent elephant behavior that explain human teenagers. I was beguiled.” —Atul Gawande, M.D.
“Centered on an insight rich with consequences, this beautifully written book is loaded with fascinating material that makes a compelling case for viewing human health and disease comparatively. We have more to learn from other species than I had ever suspected. Gripping and memorably engaging, it belongs in the hands of anyone with an ounce of curiosity about the biological sources of the human condition.” —Stephen Stearns, PhD., Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University
“Fascinating reading about the similarities in both the physiology and behavior of people and animals.” —Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
“Zoobiquity uncovers the core connections that link our health with all other living creatures on the planet. Presenting a diversity of fascinating examples—from the companion animals who share our homes to wild animals we’ll never even see—this important book shatters barriers between disciplines and professions. Zoobiquity advances a ‘species-spanning’ approach to both physical and psychological problems that could vastly improve how we understand not only other animals but also ourselves. The book’s exploration of animal psychopathology demonstrates important links to, and offers key insights into, human mental illness. The book is a ‘must read’ for students interested in animals and evolution who are considering careers as biologists, ethologists, physicians, veterinarians, nurses, dentists, psychotherapists, nutritionists and many others.” —Marc Bekoff, author of Minding Animals and The Emotional Lives of Animals, and co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
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Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, M.D., earned her degrees at Harvard and the University of California, San Francisco. She is a cardiology professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and serves on the medical advisory board of the Los Angeles. Zoo as a cardiovascular consultant. Her writing has appeared in many scientific and medical publications.
Kathryn Bowers was a staff editor at The Atlantic and a writer and producer at CNN International. She has edited and written popular and academic books and teaches a course at UCLA on medical narrative.