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More Fun Than Fun : Chandru’s Inordinate Fondness for Insects.

Gadagkar, R. (2021) More Fun Than Fun : Chandru’s Inordinate Fondness for Insects. In: Science: The Wire .

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The evolutionary biologist and polymath J.B.S. Haldane is said to have remarked that “The universe is not only queerer than we imagine but queerer than we can imagine.” And one of those many queer things is that there are more species of beetles than any other kind of animal on our planet. This queer fact also apparently did not escape Haldane’s notice and repartee. Replying to theologians who inquired if there was anything that could be concluded about the Creator from the study of creation, Haldane is said to have quipped, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.” In his new biography, A Dominant Character: The Radical Science and Restless Politics of J.B.S. Haldane, Samanth Subramanian says no one can determine if Haldane really said so. “But, however apocryphal, the quip has never stopped sounding like him.” I might add that Haldane’s alleged quip has also never stopped tantalising biologists with an enduring mystery – whether for creation or evolution, why this inordinate fondness for beetles? If we consider all insects together, then, as Robert May has said, “To a good approximation, all species are insects”. But again, why this inordinate fondness for insects? Before we even attempt to answer these ‘why’ questions, we need reliable estimates of the numbers of species of different kinds of animals and plants. And this, it turns out, is no trivial matter. Interestingly, there is much uncertainty both about how many species have been documented so far and how many remain to be documented.

Item Type: Editorials/Short Communications
Publication: Science: The Wire
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 31 May 2021 06:02
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 06:02
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/68668

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