History of Sex

^z 22nd November 2023 at 7:05am

Some fascinating books about zoology, the biological evolution of gender, comparative primate physiology, human culture and customs, sexual selection, sociobiology, and other aspects of life on this planet:

  • The Seven Sexes: The Biology of Sex Determination (2013) — Elof Axel Carlson — a textbook of medical discovery by an entertaining, meticulous teacher who delves deep yet doesn't forget to include amusing asides. For instance, in Chapter 12:

... the idea of microbial sexuality did not enter their thinking. That changed in 1904, when Albert Francis Blakeslee (1874–1954) obtained his PhD at Harvard working on the bread mold, Mucor mucedo. ... The work earned him a fellowship to travel to Germany, where he spent two years at Halle studying fungi. He much enjoyed those years except for one incident when he was arrested for sweeping horse manure into a paper bag. The policeman saw mischief afoot and Blakeslee could not convince him that he was sweeping up manure to look for new varieties of fungi. ...

... as well as more general musings about complexity and fragility, e.g. in Chapter 17:

Life can be resilient and vulnerable at the same time. We rejoice at stories of Olympic medalists who overcome severe injury or a childhood marked with tragedy. At the same time, nature can dish out genetic disorders resulting in births incompatible with life — severely limiting in organ function or leaving an adult with chronic illness. What makes life so vulnerable is the nature of genetic material. Something as simple as altering or removing one nucleotide pair out of some three billion present in a sperm or an egg can result in one of those debilitating or lethal genetic conditions. That doesn’t happen if one pulls a single brick out of a multistoried building. It won’t collapse no matter where that brick is removed. ...

  • A brief history of the female body: an evolutionary look at how and why the female form came to be (2023) — Deena Emera — on natural selection and the forces that drive it
  • Vagina obscura: an anatomical voyage (2023) — Rachel E Gross — a popular science exposition of sex and social context
  • Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist (2022) — Frans de Waal — entertaining comparative zoology
  • Curvology: The Origins and Power of Female Body Shape (2015) — David Bainbridge — evolutionary biology, psychology, and sociology

... what wonders exist on this Earth!

(cf Light of Evolution (2006-04-24), Darwin on the Face of Nature (2006-09-01), Darwin on the Tree of Life (2006-10-01), Darwin in Conclusion (2007-01-05), Herodotus Misunderstands Evolution (2007-06-02), Brief History of the Female Body (2023-10-29), ...) - ^z - 2023-11-20