Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Healthby Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, Kathryn Bowers Published 09 Apr 2013
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New York Times Bestseller
A Discover Magazine Best Book of 2012
An O, The Oprah Magazine “Summer Reading” Pick
Finalist, 2013 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books
Do animals overeat? Get breast cancer? Have fainting spells?
Inspired by an eye-opening consultation at the Los Angeles Zoo, which revealed that a monkey experienced the same symptoms of heart failure as her human patients, cardiologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz embarked upon a project that would reshape how she practiced medicine. Beginning with the above questions, she began informally researching every affliction that she encountered in humans to learn whether it happened with animals, too. And usually, it did: dinosaurs suffered from brain cancer, koalas can catch chlamydia, reindeer seek narcotic escape in hallucinogenic mushrooms, stallions self-mutilate, and gorillas experience clinical depression. Natterson-Horowitz and science writer Kathryn Bowers have dubbed this pan-species approach to medicine zoobiquity. Here, they present a revelatory understanding of what animals can teach us about the human body and mind, exploring how animal and human commonality can be used to diagnose, treat, and heal patients of all species.
"Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Health" Reviews
So far, this is not going well. She's acting like she discovered something new & then leaves an incorrect impression about how & when animal & human medicine diverged so much. It's really a topic worthy of discussion in this book & I hope she gives it more time. If she doesn't, I won't be finishing the book. As it is, most of her examples are fairly ridiculous so far. Well read, though.
The book has gotten better, but I'm reeling. I've known quite a few doctors & vets. The best often explained things to us in terms of animals & vice versa. My uncle & a couple of other vets used to fix up people as needed. We've always swapped medicines with our animals. Anyone who has raised animals & kids knows there's a lot of similarities both physically & psychologically. I read synopsis of a lot of scientific animal studies, so it's quite daunting to listen to this highly trained doctor admit to this level of ignorance.
She confesses to being cloistered from the real world as a top cardiologist & psychiatrist. She points out & admits to the snobbery of the medical community, how the 'top' doctors like neurosurgeons look down on mere vets even though it's tougher to get into vet school. She also correctly points out that vets look down on human doctors since they merely work on one species of animal, one that can usually talk, but similarities between species is all news to her! That's some ivory tower she's been living in. It's scary.
Update: I tried, but the woman is just too divorced from reality. I guess that's what comes of devoting yourself to as much study as she has & growing up without any pets. It's just too much to bear, though. You'd think she'd realize how much she owes to animal studies already, but she seems clueless. How a heart surgeon could be is beyond me.
I don't know what crazy theories they teach in shrink school now, but again, you'd think she'd realize people have animal urges & didn't emerge as from the caves very long ago by evolutionary standards. She really needs to go live on a farm for a few years.
This book was good enough, but could have been so much better. The overall theme is that there are significant parallels between human and animal health that have been overlooked due to the bifurcation of human and veterinary medicine; this is explored through chapters on problems like cancer, substance abuse, heart ailments, and self-harm. It turns out that some recent "discoveries" in human health have long been known, analogously, by vets; so we should look for more connections to improve health for members of every species. So far, so good.
The book was written by a doctor collaborating with a science journalist, and the dumbed-down additions to the text stand out so much they may as well have been printed in a different color: "In other words, a common genetic 'blueprint' instructed the embryos of Shamu, Secretariat, and Kate Middleton to grow different, yet homologous, limbs: steering flippers, thundering hooves, and regal, waving arms." I probably don't need to quote the sentence that came before to make it obvious that this gloss is unnecessary for comprehension. Now multiply that across the entire book. And yet, the paragraphs that I assume were written by the doctor are perfectly pleasant to read and don't require this kind of dressing up, unless you assume the audience consists of recalcitrant 10th graders.
I'm not entirely sure this book deserves to be damned with two stars instead of three, or my "magazine-article-as-book" tag. The central thesis is worthwhile and lots of the examples are interesting. But the presentation borders on Natalie-Angier-ish and the examples pile up in a way that tells you more about horses or koalas than the developing field of "one health." It did make me impatient and seemed less thoughtful than Spillover, which deals with similar material.
I honestly cannot think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading this book. Natterson-Horowitz is a doctor who was asked to do cardiovascular surgery on a tamarin. While trying to "reassure" the monkey pre-surgery, she learned about the risks of a condition called capture myopathy found in animals. She's shocked to find this condition, well-studied among vets, bears a striking resemblance to an emerging heart condition in humans. This gets her thinking: What else do vets know all about that could help humans? The answer, it turns out, is quite a lot.
With the help of a science journalist, Natterson-Horowitz has created a compulsively readable, entertaining, and enlightening book about the intersection of human and non-human medicine. She has fascinating chapters on cardiology, cancer, sex, addiction, fear, obesity, mental illness, sexually transmitted diseases, and adolescence. She finds endless unexpected corollaries and begins to ask how studying these issues in animals could teach us more about humans. The results, as I mentioned, are riveting. The information she so smoothly conveys opens up all source of captivating ideas, questions, and avenues for investigation and collaboration.
The only (small) flaw with this book was her obsession with coming up with new terms. "Zoobiquity" for instance, which I'm not sure is really going to catch on) or a syndrome called F.R.A.D.E. which stands for "fear/restraint associated death events" and is more than a little forced. I don't know, perhaps all doctors do that. Regardless, it's a tiny flaw, and I suspect many of my friends and relatives will be receiving this book as a gift.
Knjiga je vrlo zanimljiva, kako za amatere, tako i za profesionalce. Ima sasvim dovoljno osvrta na engleskom, pa ću ja ovaj napisati na hrvatskom.
Autorica uglčavnom prilično dobro argumentira svoje teze o povezanosti humane i životinsjke patologije, negdje vrlo uvjerljivo (bolesti ovisnosti, infekcije, debljina), negdje manje (STD, poremećaji prehrane), ali svakako otvara oči na činjenicu da nema jasnog prijelaza između biologije čovjeka i biologije svih ostalih živih bića. i da čak i od crva možemo nešto naučiti. 4.5
Eye-opening, though hyper-focused on salacious topics like sex and cutting. One phrase sums up the premise : "Our physical body structures evolved over hundreds of millions of years. Perhaps modern human emotions too have evolved over millennia."
"Koalas in Australia are in the middle of a rampant epidemic of chlamydia. Veterinarians there are racing to produce a koala chlamydia vaccine."
"Chimpanzees in the wild experience depression and sometimes die of it."
"All living organisms, including plants, are long-lost relatives."
"Whether it’s a hagfish excreting a protective coating of slime over a clutch of eggs … or a Gombe chimp demonstrating a termite-fishing technique to a juvenile, animal parents of all kinds are invested in how their transitioning offspring fare."
"Trillions of invisible creatures make our intestines their home, a dark teeming world scientists call the microbiome... as few as 1 out of every 10 cells in our bodies may actually be human."
"Within our microbiomes there are two dominant groups of bacteria : the firmicutes and bacteroidetes... these bacteria break down food we can't digest on our own. The geneticists made an interesting discovery : obese humans had a higher proportion of firmicutes in their intestines; lean humans had more bacteroidetes. As the obese humans lost weight over the course of a year, the microflora in their guts started looking more like lean individuals..."
"Dragonflies... these insects are amongst the fittest animals on earth. Extraordinarily lean and muscular, over 300 million years dragonflies have evolved so perfectly to the acrobatic demands of hovering, bobbing, and looping-the-loop, Marden calls them world-class elite animal athletes."
"Gradually, Watts challenged the bears' tastebuds... she traded mango for apple, then spinach, celery, peppers, and tomatoes... Soon when the keepers showed up for a meal, the bears were as enthusiastic as human foodies, sniffing out the exotic offerings at a new gastropub."
"Recently, a 3rd year veterinary student … was holding a free vaccination clinic for neighborhood dogs and cats. She was approached by a local woman who angrily asked why the animals received free healthcare while the people were left to fend for themselves… The resourceful student, Brittany King, set to work creating a “One Health Clinic.”
Interesting thesis: There are parallels between human and animal models of disease (for example, takotsubo cardiomyopathy in humans and capture myopathy in prey animals, like small monkeys). But being a medical geek, I would have liked more detail regarding pathophysiology. I also would have liked more depth and insight in the authors' conclusions, apart from "physicians and veterinarians should collaborate." For example, does the comparative study of human and animal diseases give us an evolutionary perspective on disease and health? Altogether, an interesting book, if a little underdeveloped.