Nature's Nether Regions
What the Sex Lives of Bugs, Birds, and Beasts Tell Us About Evolution, Biodiversity, and OurselvesBook - 2014
The story of evolution-as you've never heard it before.
Between the legs, hidden in neck folds, or brandished on the head, an astounding array of penises and vaginas, each with a shape and function carefully selected by evolution, appears in the animal kingdom. In Nature's Nether Regions , Menno Schilthuizen reports from the front lines of evolutionary biology, joining other researchers on a brilliant quest to make sense of the origins, workings, and evolution of our and other species' reproductive selves. Are penises devices to court the female? Or are they used to combat rival males on the female's turf? Are male and female genitalia constantly at odds over who's in charge of fertilization?
Journey to Central American and hear the Song of the crane fly penis; visit lab in Canada where scientists perform vasectomies on snails; watch as researchers in lab coasts make female monkeys climax. Schilthuizen enthusiastically, and with great clarity, explains why in the nether region of every male and female frog, fish and fowl there lies a world where bizarre, sometimes gruesome mating rituals involving particularly outlandish sex organs are the norm. Humans, by comparison, are downright boring-but we fit in nonetheless.
Nature's Nether Regions , charmingly demonstrates that there is no need to be afraid of studying animal sex. In fact, the more we learn about our animal brethren, the more we understand the beauty of all life and the power of evolution to generate great diversity in size, shape, and function.
Forget Opposable big toes and canine teeth- the largest anatomical differences between humans and chimpanzees are found in out nether regions. If you want to understand what makes any species in the animal kingdom unique, look no further than the reproductive organs . . . In Nature's Nether Regions, Menno Schilthuizen invites readers to discover animal underbellies-and along the way celebrates the wondrous genital diversity of life in all its shapes and sizes. You'll learn that-The longest penis in the world was discovered by Darwin and belongs to the burrowing barnacle Squid deploy autonomous sperm grenades Whereas semen survives in the human vagina for only a few days, queen ants can store sperm for decades. The females of certain spiders carry dead miniatures males as chastity belts
. . . and more, on this tour of the latest insights of the burgeoning field of evolutionary biology. You'll never look at a fruit fly the same again.
'From the very first page, Memmo Schilthuizen makes us both laugh and think about the bewildering genital variation in the animal kingdom. We laugh at the outrageous shapes these organs take and think about the central issue of this book- how genital anatomy advances male and female procreation. An exhilarating and most informative read!' Frans De Waal, author of The Bonobo and the Atheist