Finally, a how-to guide, in the guise of a Q&A advice column, for marching, flying, or slithering into the battle of the sexes, whatever your species. In this entertaining and informative book, evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson presents "letters" from sexually frustrated animals, birds, and insects who ask "Dr. Tatiana" to explain some sexual oddity. For example, "Don't Wanna Be Butch in Botswana" writes, "I'm a spotted hyena, a girl. The only trouble is, I've got a large phallus. I can't help feeling that this is unladylike. What's wrong with me?" Each question leads Dr. T. into a fascinating explanation about the sex life of this species, sprinkled with sprightly stories about other species with similar attributes or behavior.
You'll learn why one stick-insect copulation lasts for 10 weeks (to prevent other males from gaining access to the fertile female) and why the black-winged damselfly's penis has bristles (to scrape out his rival's sperm). You'll learn that male and female orangutans masturbate with sex toys fashioned from leaves and twigs, that slugs are hermaphrodites with penises on their heads, and that females in more than 80 species eat their lovers before, during, or after sex. You'll also ponder human sexuality when you learn that "monogamy is one of the most deviant behaviors in biology" (although jackdaws, chinstrap penguins, California mice, and some termites swear by it) and "natural selection, it seems, often smiles on strumpets."
Highly recommended--you'll read this through just for the fun of it and have plenty of odd facts with which to dazzle your dinner companions. --Joan Price
From Publishers Weekly
Those looking for prurient prose may be better off browsing their local adult bookstore, but readers intrigued by the bizarre facts surrounding animal whoopee (and really, who isn't?) should pay a visit to Dr. Tatiana, the alter ego of evolutionary biologist and journalist Judson. While her wryly salacious tone makes animal mating habits and evolutionary biology pretty racy, the book still reads more like a textbook than the Kama Sutra. Judson uses a tongue-in-cheek advice column format through much of the book, forging letters from dung flies, iguanas, sagebrush crickets and rodents ("Like, what's the deal? I'm a sleek young California mouse and am so in heat.") to explore reproductive biology. The device can be grating, and purists appalled by anthropomorphism may find themselves cringing as Judson chastises a male splendid fairy wren for philandering, while pronouncing his paddle crab counterpart a "gentleman." Still, Judson gets high marks for her copiously researched data. Perhaps most compelling is her chapter entitled "Aphrodisiacs, Love Potions, and Other Recipes From Cupid's Kitchen," in which the roots of animal homosexuality are examined. The reader will undoubtedly come away with reams of fascinating factoids, such as the nauseating dining habits of tropical cockroaches during copulation, and the pregnancies of the male seahorse and his cousin, the pipefish.
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