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Restless Creatures: The Story of Life in Ten Movements by Matt Wilkinson

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8

Give It a Rest

In which we learn that even the laziest organisms aren’t immune to life’s wanderlust

                   For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground.

—William Shakespeare, Richard II

All the signs are right. The lustrous red pigment with its intense ultraviolet sheen is just what the fly’s been looking for. The rich, fragrant aroma is irresistible. And, in any case, it’s a plant—what’s the worst that could happen? So, the insect touches down, fully expecting to gorge itself on a banquet of overripe fruit. Sadly, an altogether more grisly fate awaits it. As the fly wanders around, lapping at the droplets of nectar that ooze from the edges of its landing platform, it brushes against a stiff hair—one of six that stud the surface. ...

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