Author(s): Menno Schilthuizen
What's the easiest way to tell species apart? Check their genitals. Researching private parts was long considered taboo, but scientists are now beginning to understand that the wild diversity of sex organs across species can tell us a lot about evolution. Schilthuizen invites readers to join him as he uncovers the ways the shapes and functions of genitalia have been molded by complex Darwinian struggles. He joyfully demonstrates that by learning about the private parts of animals the more humans can learn about their unique place in the diversity of life.
"From the very first page, Menno Schilthuizen makes us both laugh and think about the bewildering genital variation in the animal kingdom. We laugh at the outrageous shapes these organs take, and think about the central issue of this book: how genital anatomy advances male and female procreation. An exhilarating and most informative read!"--Frans de Waal, author of "The Bonobo and the Atheist" "A remarkable book... succeeds in finding exactly the right tone.... Schilthuizen's entertaining work reminds us not to take 'the mechanics of sexual intercourse' for granted.'"--"Publishers Weekly" "A provocative voyage on the 'vast ocean of sexual function beyond the quiet backwater that we humans find ourselves in.'"--"Kirkus " "The science of genitals is a relatively new field for biologists, who have long overlooked the evolutionary importance of species' private parts. Biologist Schilthuizen balances the silly and the serious to describe researchers' latest efforts to understand how 'evolution has graced the animal kingdom with such a bewildering diversity of reproductive organs.' Schilthuizen tours some of nature's weirdest inventions, such as the chicken flea penis, which is 'actually a profusion of plates, combs, springs, and levers' and looks like 'an exploded grandfather clock.'"--"Scientific American"
Menno Schilthuizen is a research scientist at the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden, the Netherlands. He has written on ecology and evolution for "Science," "Natural History," and other publications.