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Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition

Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Males are promiscuous and ferociously competitive. Females--both human and of other species--are naturally monogamous. That at least is what the study of sexual behavior after Darwin assumed, perhaps because it was written by men. Only in recent years has this version of events been challenged. Females, it has become clear, are remarkably promiscuous and have evolved an astonishing array of strategies, employed both before and after copulation, to determine exactly who will father their offspring.

Tim Birkhead reveals a wonderful world in which males and females vie with each other as they strive to maximize their reproductive success. Both sexes have evolved staggeringly sophisticated ways to get what they want--often at the expense of the other. He introduces us to fish whose first encounter locks them together for life in a perpetual sexual embrace; hermaphrodites who "joust" with their reproductive organs, each trying to inseminate the other without being inseminated; and tiny flies whose seminal fluid is so toxic that it not only destroys the sperm of rival males but eventually kills the female. He explores the long and tortuous road leading to our current state of knowledge, from Aristotle's observations on chickens, to the first successful artificial insemination in the seventeenth century, to today's ingenious molecular markers for assigning paternity. And he shows how much human behavior--from the wife-sharing habits of Inuit hunters to Charlie Chaplin's paternity case--is influenced by sperm competition.

Lucidly written and lavishly illustrated, with a wealth of fascinating detail and vivid examples, Promiscuity is the ultimate guide to the battle of the sexes.

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 245-262) and index.

About the Author

Tim Birkhead is Professor of Behavioral Ecology at the University of Sheffield.

Table of Contents

List of Plates

Preface

1. Competition, Choice and Sexual Conflict

2. Paternity and Protection

3. Genitalia

4. Sperm, Ejaculates and Ova

5. Copulation, Insemination and Fertilization

6. Mechanisms of Sperm Competition and Sperm Choice

7. The Benefits of Polyandry

References

Bibliography

Appendix: Species mentioned in the text

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674004450
Author:
Birkhead, Tim
Author:
Birkhead, T. R.
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Location:
Cambridge, Mass. :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Evolution
Subject:
Zoology
Subject:
Reproduction
Subject:
Sexual selection in animals.
Subject:
Promiscuity.
Subject:
Sperm competition
Subject:
Life Sciences - Evolution
Subject:
Life Sciences - Zoology - General
Series Volume:
0065
Publication Date:
20001023
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
31 color, 17 line illustrations, 5 halft
Pages:
292
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1.01 lb

Related Subjects

Science and Mathematics » Biology » Ethology and Animal Behavior
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Zoology » General

Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition
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Product details 292 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674004450 Reviews:
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