Thursday, March 26, 2015

Last of the Sandwalkers by Jay Hosler- Blog Tour

Hosler, Jay. Last of the Sandwalkers. First Second Books (Macmillan), April 2015. 320pg. $16.99. 9781626720244.

Affiliate Links: Amazon | Indiebound

Genre: Science Fiction, Graphic Novel
Cover Appeal: Bug on a skeleton? All the middle school kids will want this!

(from the publisher) Nestled in the grass under the big palm tree by the edge of the desert there is an entire civilization—a civilization of beetles. In this bug's paradise, beetles write books, run restaurants, and even do scientific research. One such scientist is Lucy, who leads a team of researchers out into the desert. Their mission is to discover something about the greater world...but what lies in wait for them is going to change everything Lucy thought she knew.

Beetles are not the only living creatures in the world.

Character Name: Bugs
Species: Atemeles pubicollis
Length: 4 - 5 mm
Color: golden brown.
Habitat: ant colonies
Superpower: Olfactory deception

No one likes a freeloader, but you have to admire the evolutionary adaptations of the rove beetle Atemeles pubicollis. This small beetle has cracked the top secret communication codes of various ant species and uses the information to infiltrate their nests.

Ants communicate with each other using odors. Their eyes aren’t so hot, but they have great sniffers, capable of detecting the difference between family and foes. At least, most of the time they can. The problem with relying on a highly specific code for communication is that if someone else cracks the code, they can really take advantage of the system. Over evolutionary time, Atemeles has evolved the ability to mimic not one, but two of the chemical cues used by certain ants. It can release odors from its appeasement gland to calm guard ants. Most ants are pretty aggressive, so the beetle’s appeasement gland makes it possible for it to approach the colony. Once it has made nice with the guard, it releases another odor that smells just like a baby ant. Since the ant can’t see very well, it trusts its sense of smell and carries the beetle into the colony. Once in, Atemeles can much away on baby ants and enjoy the full protection of the colony.

In addition to being a master of olfactory disguise, Atemeles and other rove beetles are pretty good at origami. Kinda, sorta. Most beetles have long wing covers (called elytra) that extend the length of their bodies and cover their abdomens. A rove beetle has very short elytra. This makes if possible to have a much more maneuverable abdomen (good for waving deceptive odors in the face of ants), but it means you have less space to pack your wings. To that end, rove beetles have become quite good at folding their long wings under their little elytra. You can watch the process in slow motion in these videos (provided as supplementary material for an article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

In Last of the Sandwalkers, our beetle heroes learn the hard way that even though the beetle Atemeles smells fishy to them, ants have a hard time sniffing out the truth.

About the Author
Jay Hosler is a biology professor at Juniata College, and a cartoonist. He enjoys telling stories about science and the natural world, and his first graphic novel (Clan Apis) won a Xeric Award and was selected for YALSA's 2002 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. His latest book, Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth, was a 2011 Junior Library Guild selection, a nominee for YALSA's 2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and has been included in the Texas Library Association's Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List. He lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and his two little nerdlings.


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Wednesday, March 25
Great Kid Books
Thursday, March 26
The Brain Lair
Friday, March 27
Supernatural Snark
Monday, March 30
The Book Rat
Tuesday, March 31
Miss Print
Wednesday, April 1
Mr. Schu Reads
Thursday, April 2
Geek Dad
Friday, April 3
Monday, April 6
Librarian’s Quest
Tuesday, April 7
SLJ Scope Notes
Wednesday, April 8
Alice Marvels
Thursday, April 9
The Roarbots
Friday, April 10
Sharp Read

1 comment:

Thanks for chatting! I love comments and look forward to reading yours! I may not reply right away, but I am listening! Keep reading and don't forget to be awesome!


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