zondag 20 april 2014

New Book by Menno Schilthuizen: Nature's Nether Regions

A new book by Menno Schilthuizen!

I promised myself not to promote anything on this blog, but today I recieved a mail from Menno Schilthuizen about his new book: "Nature's Nether Regions". And given the topic of the book and the fact that I look up to Menno as a science writer, I decided to advise you all to read (and possibly buy) the book. I plan on reading it myself in due time and maybe write a short review on the blog. I have read two other books by Menno, namely "Frogs, Flies and Dandelions" and "The Loom of Life: Unravelling Ecosystems". Two books I can also recommend. Here is the official press release:

The Cover of Nature's Nether Regions

In NATURE’S NETHER REGIONS: What the Sex Lives of Bugs, Birds, and Beasts Tell Us About Evolution, Biodiversity, and Ourselves, Menno Schilthuizen reports from the front lines of evolutionary biology, on a quest to make sense of the origins, workings and evolution of our and other species’ reproductive selves (Viking; On-sale: May 1, 2014; 978-0670785919; $28.95). In this extremely entertaining new book, Schilthuizen demonstrates that the more we learn about our animal brethren—and their underbellies—the more we understand the beauty of all life and the power of evolution to generate incredible diversity in size, shape and purpose.

What’s the easiest way to tell species apart? Check their genitals. No other organs are as diverse in the way they look and function. Animal species that look very similar on the outside are as different as night and day when one peeks between their legs. Researching private parts was long considered taboo, but scientists are now taking a serious interest in the questions of how and why genitals evolve so quickly. NATURE’S NETHER REGIONS tells the story of these intrepid researchers and the complex web of Darwinian struggle they have uncovered.

To illustrate this epic evolutionary battle, Menno describes penises that sing and have vibrators; female orgasms that sort sperm and flush out the rejects; spiders that masturbate into miniature webs; males with appendages that scoop left-behind semen from previous mates.  We learn why, when it comes to bizarre behaviors and outlandish appendages, humans are downright boring—but we fit in nonetheless.

Marrying the playful prose of a Mary Roach with the evolutionary know-how of a Jerry Coyne, Menno’s tour of the wide world of animal sex organs is a thrilling reminder of our unique place in the great diversity of life and the best way to understand the tortuous ways in which evolution works.

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