Saturday, October 15, 2005

Review of Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to all Creation

One wonders why a book on evolutionary biology would have a blurb on its jacket by Barbara Eherenreich. Seems like a way you would market a pathetic book to people who would rightfully be uninterested in reading about evolutionary biology and thought that reading a $24.00 book with her endoresment would make them more socially aware.

That said, you’d be wrong. I can’t answer to the whys of Ehernreich’s name on the jacket, and reading it will not likely make you more socially aware, but Olivia Judson's Dr. Tatiana's sex advice to all creation was not half bad. I actually enjoyed it. Again, it is not as the front cover proclaims “the definitive guide to the evolutionary biology of sex”, but it is a fun read. (Who the hell decides what goes on dust jackets of books? Though the picture of the two bugs on the front is very pretty.)

Over the course of this popular book we find “letters” to a fictitious advice columnist form all sorts of creatures which allows the author to talk at length about the wide variety of sexual habits and strategies found in nature. It is my guess that most of the examples are from insects, but there is a great deal of other creatures represented.

We find discussions of sexual promiscuity (in males and females), monogamy, creatures who eat their mates before, during and after sex, we find, discussions of aphrodisiacs, rape, battles for mates, creatures who have sex almost in utero, creatures who wait years before having sex, creatures who have one sex two sexes, three sexes and hundreds of sexes. We see why some creatures have little sex and some have a lot.

There are loads of interesting questions there. My personal favorite was the last chapter on virginity, which is why some species have no sex at all.

The book is well grounded in evolutionary theory. There is a clear appreciation for the complexities and also the simplicity of the theory. Everything is presented so as to make sense and be clear. It is a cute read and tells you a lot about an interesting aspect of the diversity of nature. Read it.

PS: To “L” and Christian fundamentalists: please do not complain about the book soley on the grounds that the word “evolution” is mentioned in a discussion of it.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like my kind of read. Did she talk about voles?

Karl said...

Voles are discussed in the section on monagomy. Apparently prarie voles are very monogomous (a rarity in nature). She explains why and how they are (there is a chemical vasopressin), and why this is rare. Montane voles, a close relative of the prarie vole, on the other hand are rather promiscuous, and the male has little interest in hanging out with the female afterward. There is also an interesting few words on the relationship between monogamy and testicle size in a species.

Anonymous said...

uhhhh......I hate to publicize my curiosity about this but are large testicles or small testicles linked to monogamy? Just wondering because if I ever go back up on jdate I can request testicle size in my ad.

Anonymous said...

I'm serious. Please answer.

Anonymous said...

No more sex advice! New post please! I suck at subtlety.