Battle of the sexes: the natural history of sex
The nature of sex is widely misunderstood. The human ideal of sex portrays it as the romantic outcome of love, leading the participants into a long-term alliance enabling them to produce and raise happy, healthy children -- an idealistic picture all too often shattered in divorce court. A wealth of observation of how animals conduct their private lives shows that -- in the wild -- sexual skulduggery and infidelity are much more the norm than the exception.
As natural history producer John Sparks tells it, sex does not and never did encourage sharing or caring. On the contrary, it compels the participants to engage in civil war at all stages of their lives. Although mates do consent to donate eggs and sperm toward the creation of new life, on almost every other issue -- the choice and number of partners, the size of their families and who looks after them -- males and females are in complete disagreement.
The act of sex is hardly effortless, even for animals. It is selfish, aggressive, competitive -- and, when it gets really interesting, fatal. Battle of the Sexes is a guided, photo-illustrated tour through the breeding styles and cycles of all the animals, led by the former head of the BBC's prestigious Natural History Unit. A far cry from the happy island of Dr. Dolittle, the animal kingdom is replete with tales of bizarre sexual traits and behavior, all set in motion in the selfish, ruthless effort to propagate the species.
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Battle Of The SexesUser Review - Book Verdict
In this beautifully photographed book (companion to a forthcoming program on the Discovery Channel), BBC producer and natural history author Sparks focuses primarily on the tensions and conflicts inherent in reproduction for many species. Chapters cover "warrior and wimp" males, "choosy" females, "the sexual connection," and parenting. Some fascinating variations on the theme include lizards that reproduce asexually but still "mate" in order to stimulate egg production in each other; male octopi so tiny they were originally thought to be parasitic worms on the females; and jacanas, a bird species in which the males do the "mothering" while the females are aggressive and promiscuous. A concluding chapter on "why sex?" presents the theory that sexual recombination of genes enables organisms to change and adapt more quickly to injury by microbes and parasites. Of interest to both students and others concerned with animal behavior; recommended for both academic and public libraries.--Beth Clewis Crim, Prince William P.L., VA ...