'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
Nature's Nether Regions
A tour of evolution’s most inventive – and essential – creations: animal genitalia
The penis has been reinvented more often than the wheel, and some of the reinventions are pretty quirky: for example, a typical damselfly penis has a balloon – an inflatable bulb – and two horns at the tip, plus long bristles down the sides. This great diversity in sexual organs illustrates one of the few rules of biology: that if species are very similar in appearance, but there is only one good way to tell them apart, that difference is almost invariably in the shape of the genitalia.
In the past two decades biologists have discovered that genitals – as tools for passing on genes to future generations – are at the forefront of evolution. Now, in Nature's Nether Regions, the ecologist and evolutionary biologist Menno Schilthuizen describes this revolutionary work and the important new perspectives that it opens up on evolution, development and behaviour. He shows us how the amazing diversity of form and function in female and male genitalia – including human ones – is the result of the unexpected twists of evolution; why, in sex more than anything else, humans are the newbies where outlandish shapes and bizarre behaviours are concerned; and what this eye-popping sexual cornucopia reveals about human nature.
Schilthuizen packs this delightful read with astonishing scientific insights while maintaining an absorbing narrative style reminiscent of Mary Roach and Jerry Coyne. With illustrations throughout and vivid field anecdotes– among them laser surgery on a fruit fly’s privates and a snail orgy – Nature’s Nether Regions is a celebration of life in all shapes and sizes.