We all know about the birds and the bees, but what about the ancient placoderm fishes and the dinosaurs? The history of sex is as old as life itself—and as complicated and mysterious. And despite centuries of study there is always more to know. In 2008, paleontologist John A. Long and a team of researchers revealed their discovery of a placoderm fish fossil, known as “the mother fish,” which at 380 million years old revealed the oldest vertebrate embryo—the earliest known example of internal fertilization. As Long explains, this find led to the reexamination of countless fish fossils and the discovery of previously undetected embryos. As a result, placoderms are now considered to be the first species to have had intimate sexual reproduction or sex as we know it—sort of.
Inspired by this incredible find, Long began a quest to uncover the paleontological and evolutionary history of copulation and insemination. In The Dawn of the Deed, he takes readers on an entertaining and lively tour through the sex lives of ancient fish and exposes the unusual mating habits of arthropods, tortoises, and even a well-endowed (16.5 inches!) Argentine Duck. Long discusses these significant discoveries alongside what we know about reproductive biology and evolutionary theory, using the fossil record to provide a provocative account of prehistoric sex. The Dawn of the Deed also explores fascinating revelations about animal reproduction, from homosexual penguins to monogamous seahorses to the difficulties of dinosaur romance and how sexual organs in ancient shark-like fishes actually relate to our own sexual anatomy.
The Dawn of the Deed is Long’s own story of what it’s like to be a part of a discovery that rewrites evolutionary history as well as an absolutely rollicking guide to sex throughout the ages in the animal kingdom. It’s natural history with a naughty wink.
A comprehensive survey of the evolutionary science of human sexual behavior, Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior invites us to imagine human sex from the vantage point of our primate cousins, in order to underscore the role of evolution in shaping all that happens, biologically and behaviorally, when romantic passions are aroused.
How does contemporary science contribute to our understanding about what it means to be women or men? What are the social implications of scientific claims about differences between "male" and "female" brains, hormones, and genes? How does culture influence scientific and medical research and its findings about human sexuality, especially so-called normal and deviant desires and behaviors? Gender and the Science of Difference examines how contemporary science shapes and is shaped by gender ideals and images.
Prior scholarship has illustrated how past cultures of science were infused with patriarchal norms and values that influenced the kinds of research that was conducted and the interpretation of findings about differences between men and women. This interdisciplinary volume presents empirical inquiries into today's science, including examples of gendered scientific inquiry and medical interventions and research. It analyzes how scientific and medical knowledge produces gender norms through an emphasis on sex differences, and includes both U.S. and non-U.S. cases and examples.
Less than a century ago, physicians, scientists, and cultural commentators became fascinated by the endocrine glands and the effects of their secretions on our bodies and minds. Of all the characteristics supposed to be governed by them, the attributes of sex evoked the wildest interest. The gonads, it was revealed, secreted chemicals that not only influenced the biological expressions of sex, but seemed to generate the vitality and energy that made life worth living.
Through a series of case studies drawn from Central Europe, the United States, and Britain, The Most Secret Quintessence of Life explores how the notion of sex hormones enabled scientists to remap the human body, encouraging hopes that glandular interventions could cure ills, malfunctions, and even social deviance in ways inconceivable to previous generations. Many of these dreams failed, but their history, Chandak Sengoopta shows, takes us into the very heart of scientific medicine, revealing how even its most arcane concerns are shaped by cultural preoccupations and anxieties.
A growing number of young men today say they are “mostly straight” and yet feel a slight but enduring desire for men. Ritch Savin-Williams explores the stories of 40 mostly straight young men to help us understand the biological, psychological, and cultural forces that are loosening the sexual bind many boys and young men experience.
Inbreeding, the mating of close kin, and outbreeding, the mating of distant relatives or unrelated organisms, have long been important subjects to evolutionary biologists. Inbreeding reduces genetic diversity in a population, increasing the likelihood that genetic defects will become widespread and deprive a population of the diversity it may need to cope with its environment. Most plants and animals have evolved behavioral and morphological mechanisms to avoid inbreeding. However, today many endangered species exist only in small, very isolated populations where inbreeding is unavoidable, so it has become a concern for conservationists. In this volume, twenty-six experts in evolution, behavior, and genetics examine the causes and consequences of inbreeding.
The authors ask whether inbreeding is as problematic as biologists have thought, under what ecological conditions inbreeding occurs, and whether organisms that inbreed have mechanisms to dampen the anticipated problems of reduced genetic variation. The studies, including theoretical and empirical work on wild and captive populations, demonstrate that many plants and animals inbreed to a greater extent than biologists have thought, with variable effects on individual fitness. Graduate students and researchers in evolutionary biology, animal behavior, ecology, and conservation biology will welcome this wide-ranging collection.
Sexual Nature/Sexual Culture
Edited by Paul R. Abramson and Steven D. Pinkerton University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress QP251.S48283 1995 | Dewey Decimal 306.7
In this multidisciplinary study of human sexuality, an international team of scholars looks at the influences of nature and nurture, biology and culture, and sex and gender in the sexual experiences of humans and other primates.
Using as its center the idea that sexual pleasure is the primary motivational force behind human sexuality and that reproduction is simply a byproduct of the pleasurability of sex, this book examines sexuality at the individual, societal, and cultural levels. Beginning with a look at the evolution of sexuality in humans and other primates, the essays in the first section examine the sexual ingenuity of primates, the dominant theories of sexual behavior, the differences in male and female sexual interest and behavior, and the role of physical attractiveness in mate selection. The focus then shifts to biological approaches to sexuality, especially the genetic and hormonal origins of sexual orientation, gender, and pleasure.
The essays go on to look at the role of pleasure in different cultures. Included are essays on love among the tribespeople of the Brazilian rain forest and the regulation of adolescent sexuality in India. Finally, several contributors look at the methodological issues in the study of human sexuality, paying particular attention to the problems with research that relies on people's memories of their sexual experiences.
The contributors are Angela Pattatucci, Dean Hamer, David Greenberg, Frans de Waal, Mary McDonald Pavelka, Kim Wallen, Donald Symons, Heino Meyer-Bahlburg, Jean D. Wilson, Donald Tuzin, Lawrence Cohen, Thomas Gregor, Lenore Manderson, Robert C. Bailey, Alice Schlegel, Edward H. Kaplan, Richard Berk, Paul R. Abramson, Paul Okami, and Stephen D. Pinkerton.
Spanning the chasm of the nature versus nurture debate, Sexual Nature/Sexual Culture is a look at human sexuality as a complex interaction of genetic potentials and cultural influences. This book will be of interest to a wide range of readers—from scholars and students in psychology, anthropology, sociology, and history to clinicians, researchers, and others seeking to understand the many dimensions of sexuality.
"If we ever expect to solve the sexually based problems that modern societies face, we must encourage investigations of human sexual behavior. Moreover, those investigations should employ a broad range of disciplines—looking at sex from all angles, which is precisely what Sexual Nature, Sexual Culture does."—Mike May, American Scientist
"...This timely and relevant book reminds us that we cannot rely on simple solutions to complex problems. It represents a transdiciplinary approach integrating knowledge from diverse fields and provides the reader with a challenging and rewarding experience. Especially for those who are involved in teaching human sexuality to medical students and other health care professionals, this book is highly recommended."—Gerald Wiviortt, M.D., Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
"In short, this volume contains much to stimulate, inform, and amuse, in varying proportions. What more can one ask?"—Pierre L. van den Berghe, Journal of the History of Sexuality
"...the book succeeds in bring together some of the sharpest thinkers in the field of human sexuality, and goes a long way toward clarifying the diverse perspectives that currently exist."—David M. Buss and Todd K. Shackelford, Quarterly Review of Biology