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.
“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.
“astute and funny… revelatory…Zoobiquity is as clarion and perception-altering as works by Oliver Sacks, Michael Pollan, and E. O. Wilson.” –Booklist
“The book features countless intriguing anecdotes of cross-species health problems…after finishing, you’re guaranteed to never look at your dog, cat, or any other animal the same way again.” –Publisher’s Weekly
“A groundbreaker written for the lay reader.” –Library Journal, 12/12/11
“Engaging and accessible…This book not only speaks to the medical zeitgeist, it is also often profound. It will appeal to readers of Temple Grandin, Oliver Sacks, Neil Shubin, E.O. Wilson, Atul Gawande, and others writing about medicine and health. Highly recommended.” –Library Journal, 8/17/12
“Like the best narrative nonfiction, this book will appeal to a wide range of readers...But this book is more than popular science; by combining human and veterinary medicine, the authors seek to change our view of the human place in the animal kingdom, and, with it, the way we treat illness, regardless of the species of the sufferer…vivid and illuminating.” –Politics & Prose
“a very credible argument for collaboration between disciplines…entertaining and beautifully written.” –New York Journal of Books
“you will find the argument hard to resist. Plus you will have some killer dinner party gems. Who could resist the story of lemurs with erectile dysfunction, or the iguanas that ejaculate prematurely?” –New Scientist
“the authors provide solid evidence that humans are not as far removed from the rest of the natural world as we might have thought. Engaging, useful account of the similarities between humans and other animals.” –Kirkus Review
“Zoobiquity reinforces the interconnectedness of life on Earth…In another words, we’re all in this together.” –The Globe and Mail
“Illuminating…This very engaging book is difficult to put down. It provides lots of information in an easy-to-understand manner that doesn’t feel overwhelming, perhaps because of the liberal use of humor throughout. Reading Zoobiquity gave this reader a totally new perspective on his furred and feathered neighbors.” –The Boston Globe
“Groundbreaking…essential…truly innovative…the concepts in Zoobiquity are presented so clearly and documented so extensively that they appear to have struck a chord in both the general population and the medical community.” –Yale Human Animal Medicine Project
“A truly fascinating look at the similarities between us and other animals…engrossing and enlightening reading.” –The Bark
“An entertaining and insightful series of anecdotes, bolstered by the latest in medical and veterinary science…” –Santa Barbara Independent
O Magazine 2012 Summer Reading List
Los Angeles Times 2012 Summer Reading List
Los Angeles Magazine “New and Notable” Pick
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by Andrew Shaffer, with contributions by Fin Shepard and April Wexler