Wild Sex

The Science Behind Mating in the Animal Kingdom
by Dr. Carin Bondar

Brief segments dense on information about the wide variety of ways in which animals find partners, mate, and care for their young. I knew there was a lot of different stuff going on among animals- but not quite how much. Especially with invertebrates, wow some crazy things sure glad not to be a female insect. All the things we humans think of as degraded or unnatural sexual behaviors are actually fairly common among animals, according to this author. A few really interesting facts stuck with me: did you know that female birds can control what type of nutrients and hormones their eggs receive? It depends on the species- for some, they put more nutrients into an egg if they mate with a preferred, healthy male. If the male is of lower quality, they lay smaller eggs- not putting as much into them. For other birds whose chicks must face varying competition (a later hatchling, or a brood parasite in the nest) the mother can control how much testosterone each egg receives, to prepare her chick if needed.  The section of the book that I found most interesting- that about how the animals vary in their parenting styles- was the shortest. Also I found it kind of odd that while the source notes and glossary are extensive, there is no index. The book is based on a web series and you can tell- it reads similar to a book sourced from a blog.

I gave this one a 2 because while it was interesting, some of the information was just too much (I did not want to know about frustrated male sea lions taking advantage of penguins for example) and there were a few parts I skimmed over. Had to read it in pieces over several weeks (interspersed with Yotsuba) This book was originally published with the title: The Nature of Sex: the Ins and Outs of Mating in the Animal Kingdom. Personally, I like the original title better.

Borrowed from the public library.

Rating: 2/5      366 pages, 2015

3 Responses

  1. \”(I did not want to know about frustrated male sea lions taking advantage of penguins for example) \”……. I've never heard such a thing, and I can't even imagine that. Their size differences! Does it kill the penguins? I don't dare google at work to find out…

  2. Well, it is immature bulls that can't get access to a harem, so they aren't as huge as the mature males, but still- yeah. Sometimes it does. Sometimes the seal kills and eats the penguin afterwards. Most of the penguins survive, altho obviously they are injured- evidenced by bleeding. Avoid youtube.Another shocker to me was to find out that in some seagull colonies, adults gulls that didn't mate for a season will harass chicks that are left on their own. Some chicks escape this attention because their nest is further from the center of the colony, or something. Chicks that are harassed engage in the same behavior when they grow up- cycle of abuse. Birds that don't get picked on by adults when they're young, don't bother other chicks when they grow up. Fascinating, isn't it.

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