The Sex Imperative: An Evolutionary Tale of Sexual Survival

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Springer US, Jan 1, 1994 - Science - 324 pages
After the primordial Earth produced the miracle of life, a remarkable and strange "accident" soon came to pass. This accident was sex - a new creation that would irrevocably alter the course of life on our planet. This magnificent event would engender the multitude of life forms that have come to walk, swim, and fly upon this Earth.
Dr. Maxwell takes us on an eye-opening tour of the bizarre, fascinating, infinitely diverse world of sexual relations. From single-celled organisms to human beings, Maxwell unlocks the secrets of survival, describing in rich detail the matings, meetings, and sexual make-ups of a generous sampling of land and sea creatures. The story of sex can be startling and savage: the female firefly uses her glowing lantern to lure male fireflies of related species by flashing the other species' mating code; the males are no good as mates but they make a delicious meal. Maxwell's story also includes an in-depth look at the uniqueness of human sexuality - he reveals why human beings, inheritors of an unusual collection of sexual traits, are considered the "sexiest" of the primates.
The sex imperative - the irresistible impulse to engage in sexual relations - has enabled animals to share their genes and evolve. Maxwell traces the progress of sex from the simple sharing of genes between cells to the elaborate courtship rituals that developed so sperm could merge with egg. In the effort to join sperm and egg, species have developed some astounding and unusual sexual adaptations. As Maxwell vividly describes the sex lives of various creatures, he attests to the resiliency and amazing adaptability of life to its everchanging environment. By focusing on the diversity of animal sexual relationships, Maxwell enables us to question the very basis of sexuality: What is sex? Why did it evolve? How does sexuality and survival shape the social behavior of animals and humans? The sex imperative is indeed the driving force behind Darwin's theory of random variation and natural selection, better known as "survival of the fittest." Maxwell goes so far as to investigate our latest accomplishment in the science of begetting offspring: genetic engineering.
This awe-inspiring and unique work celebrates the power and wonder of life and sexuality of all creatures - including humans. After reading this engrossing and illuminating work, no one will ever think of evolution in the same way.

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Contents

The Biological Bang
3
Why Sex?
18
Single Cell
33
Copyright

16 other sections not shown

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About the author (1994)

Kenneth Maxwell, Ph.D., is an Emeritus Professor of Biology at California State University, Long Beach.

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