Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation
If you have ever wondered why women always bite your head off or why one guy gets all the girls, if you have ever pondered why some men bring you balloons while others leave you their genitals, then Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation is the book for you. It explains all this and much more. It discloses the best time to have a sex change, how to have a virgin birth, when to seduce your sisters or eat your lover. Quirky and brilliant, it takes as its starting point all creatures great and small worried about their bizarre sex lives, and the letters they write to the wise Dr Tatiana, the only agony aunt in all creation with a prodigious knowledge of both natural history and evolutionary biology.

Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation Details

TitleDr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 5th, 2003
PublisherVintage
ISBN-139780099283751
Rating
GenreScience, Nonfiction, Biology, Humor, Sexuality, Evolution, Animals, Environment, Nature, Popular Science, Adult

Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation Review

  • Richard
    January 1, 1970
    He comes home, just a little late, to a quiet house. As he opens the door, he can smell the Chinese takeout she had mentioned in her text message.Dropping his bag, he turns into the dining room and stops short. Spread across the table, mixed in with the takeout cartons, are dozens of academic journals, along with notepads full of scrawled handwriting and hastily drawn figures. But what his eyes linger over are other things, like the empty caulking gun, the bathing cap, several rubber spatulas. A He comes home, just a little late, to a quiet house. As he opens the door, he can smell the Chinese takeout she had mentioned in her text message.Dropping his bag, he turns into the dining room and stops short. Spread across the table, mixed in with the takeout cartons, are dozens of academic journals, along with notepads full of scrawled handwriting and hastily drawn figures. But what his eyes linger over are other things, like the empty caulking gun, the bathing cap, several rubber spatulas. And duct tape—of course, there's always duct tape. Lying on the floor are several large trash bags, some glistening with an oily sheen.At the far end of the table he sees that his wife is smiling up at him with that childlike enthusiasm that so charmed him, years ago. The rest of the world is still enamored of his beautiful and brilliant wife, the famous animal sex researcher and journalist, and her impish grin. He alone understands there are burdens to bear that go along with genius."Hem. Uhm—ahem—", he starts to greet her, to ask how her day has been, but he is also trying gauge his risk, and consider whether he has any escape from her... enthusiasms. "—how are you?" He coughs, and spots the food, "Is the Chinese still hot?""Oh. No, but we can reheat it. But I was thinking of doing something special with it", her eyebrows rising. Considering the possibilities, he is astonished at the innocence of her smirk.Hastily, he takes a half step back. "Oh, no—that's fine—I'm not very hungry, really". Thank goodness for the snacks at that afternoon meeting. He coughs again, a carefully measured cough, "I'm thinking of heading to bed early. There's a cold going around, and I want to curl up under the blankets. Maybe read for a bit.""Oh, that's probably a good idea." She steps to him and hugs him warmly, "maybe a hot bath first?"He almost shudders. He knows the dangers of the tub on an evening like this. He glances at the table. Is that Crustacean Sexual Biology buried under the bungee cords? He hasn't been in the jacuzzi since that night, months ago..."No, uh, I'm not really feeling sick. Just a bit preemptive."She smiles up at him. "As your personal doctor, I endorse that heartily. But reading in bed is a bad habit, you know." Giggling, she flicks off the dining room lights and takes his hand. "I've got a much better idea."He briefly winces, suddenly trapped. Struggles for an excuse... anything.But he's cut off. She leads him up the stairs, smiling over her shoulder. "I know exactly how to make sure you get a good night's sleep. I learned a trick from a tropical spider mite that I've been studying all afternoon." Too late, he spots the folded graph paper in her other hand and whimpers.       
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    This exuberantly brilliant book never fails to remind me of one of the more obvious puzzles surrounding those who subscribe to strict creationism. You know, the people who actually believe that the Lord created the universe according to the seven-day timetable laid out in Genesis. Quite apart from the convoluted mental processes needed to accommodate such inconvenient evidence as the entire fossil record, (remember, these people would have us believe that humans and dinosaurs coexisted, Flintsto This exuberantly brilliant book never fails to remind me of one of the more obvious puzzles surrounding those who subscribe to strict creationism. You know, the people who actually believe that the Lord created the universe according to the seven-day timetable laid out in Genesis. Quite apart from the convoluted mental processes needed to accommodate such inconvenient evidence as the entire fossil record, (remember, these people would have us believe that humans and dinosaurs coexisted, Flintstone-like, in some kind of post-Genesis theme park), why would anyone choose such a parched, unimaginative view of the natural world when the reality is so much more glorious? Whether or not one believes in the existence of a divine entity at the back of it all, the fact is that the magnificent variation and huge diversity of evolutionary survival strategies that are explained by Darwin’s theory imply a universe that is infinitely more fascinating than the simplistic view of the strict creationists.Olivia Judson’s “Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation” provides a comprehensive, hugely readable, account of one of evolution’s most important aspects – sexual selection. Dr. Judson has chosen a particularly delightful conceit to enlighten and entertain her readers – the book is structured as a series of letters and answers, spanning the entire natural world, to the eponymous “agony aunt” of the title, Dr. Tatiana. From the opening letter from a golden potto in the Gabon who wonders why her boyfriend’s penis is covered in enormous spines to the scandalized primate in the Ivory Coast complaining about the slutty behavior of the female chimpanzees in the neighborhood, the vignettes presented in this book are informative, wide-ranging, hilariously funny – in a single word, awesome. The book’s thirteen chapters are divided into three main sections: Part I: Let Slip the Whores of War1. A Sketch of the Battlefield2. The Expense is Damnable3. Fruits of Knowledge4. Swords or Pistols5. How to Win Even if You’re a LoserPart II: The Evolution of Depravity6. How to Make Love to a Cannibal7. Crimes of Passion8. Hell Hath no Fury9. Aphrodisiacs, Love Potions, and Other Recipes from Cupid’s Kitchen10. Till Death Do us PartPart III: Are Men Necessary? Usually, But Not Always11. The Fornications of Kings12. Eve’s Testicles13. Wholly VirginThis is definitely on my top 5 list of science books published within the last decade. It is funny, imaginative, informative and hugely entertaining. So much so that one is forced to break out the most repulsive of reviewer cliches - Dr Judson's accomplishment represents a true tour de force.
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  • Paige
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars.Sigh. This is the kind of book that I really want to like. It is jam-packed full of information about reproduction, biology, life cycles, etc. throughout all kinds of life forms (with an emphasis on insects, it seems). What's more: the references are extensive; every "column" has its own section in back where she cites each claim's source. I was impressed with the documentation and with the wealth of knowledge.So why only 2.5 stars? There are a couple of reasons:1. The format concept. 2.5 stars.Sigh. This is the kind of book that I really want to like. It is jam-packed full of information about reproduction, biology, life cycles, etc. throughout all kinds of life forms (with an emphasis on insects, it seems). What's more: the references are extensive; every "column" has its own section in back where she cites each claim's source. I was impressed with the documentation and with the wealth of knowledge.So why only 2.5 stars? There are a couple of reasons:1. The format concept. It's written like an advice column in Cosmo or something. But the "answers" ramble on and on and she'll make disparate points in one "answer," it doesn't seem to gel together for me. Also it's a lot of the same kind of stuff over and over, and while there was some truly fascinating things in here, I feel like I'm going to forget most of this information within a week. There was nothing to make the separate pieces of information stick in my head, with few exceptions (which had more to do with shocking reality of things--like in the spotted hyena's case--than with her writing). I've read other books and articles that deal with similar topics and the writers manage to make the information novel enough and different enough to stay in my memory.2. The tone of the book. Because it's written like a Cosmo column, the persistent "I'm super cool and sassy" delivery distracted me and got old pretty quickly. In this vein: she uses the word "slut," wonders if rape in the animal kingdom is really the result of females "asking for it," constantly uses the words "girls" and "boys" to describe mature animals engaging in reproductive sex... She anthropomorphizes a lot a lot a lot (which I don't have an issue with in itself, really, it just seems to make things more confusing in this case). She seems to think "radical feminists" hate men and want to destroy them. Which I found odd, since she's apparently a pretty smart scientist (degrees from Stanford, Oxford) and the vast majority of her acknowledgements go to males; you'd think she'd know better than anyone the challenges women face in the sciences. But maybe that's exactly the problem--maybe in order to make it that far she's had to ingratiate herself or something. Who knows? I don't. But I do know I didn't appreciate that aspect of it.
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  • Özgür
    January 1, 1970
    Evrimsel biyolojinin sex! başlığı altında her canlının "çoğalma" güdüsünün mizah tabanlı anlatısı olmuş. Mektupların/ Anlatıların bir süre aynileşmeye başladığı biraz da yazıldığı coğrafyanın mizah kültürünün bilinmemesiyle sıkıcı hale gelmeye başlıyor. Kütüphanede "değişik türler" kategorisinde yeri olabilir.
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  • Miriam
    January 1, 1970
    Judson's stylistic conceit -- various species writing to an advice column about their sex lives -- is clever and well-done, although it does get tired upon repetition. Her prose is lively and entertaining, remarkably so for what often boils down to biological studies of insects. What I really found invaluable about this book was her insistence that people look at real science rather than a few pseudo-scientific ideas that support various social standpoints. I wish I'd had this back when I lived Judson's stylistic conceit -- various species writing to an advice column about their sex lives -- is clever and well-done, although it does get tired upon repetition. Her prose is lively and entertaining, remarkably so for what often boils down to biological studies of insects. What I really found invaluable about this book was her insistence that people look at real science rather than a few pseudo-scientific ideas that support various social standpoints. I wish I'd had this back when I lived in the Midwest and constantly had people telling me that women had to stay home with the kids because of "biological design." Buy this book and use it to hit people who try to tell you their bullshit bigotry is supported by scientific research.
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  • Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere)
    January 1, 1970
    If I tell you that this is a book about science, zoology, and aspects of evolution - some of you may immediately tune out and rush to click on to another page. Well then, it's a book about the sex lives of various creatures - oh let me just make it easier and give you some quotes, so you can see what sorts of questions Dr. Tatiana receives, and some of her answers. This will give you a better idea how the book is both humorous and completely weird. Not to mention hard to categorize.Pg. 176, from If I tell you that this is a book about science, zoology, and aspects of evolution - some of you may immediately tune out and rush to click on to another page. Well then, it's a book about the sex lives of various creatures - oh let me just make it easier and give you some quotes, so you can see what sorts of questions Dr. Tatiana receives, and some of her answers. This will give you a better idea how the book is both humorous and completely weird. Not to mention hard to categorize.Pg. 176, from Chapter 11: The Fornications of Kings, in "Part III: Are Men Necessary? Usually, But Not Always.""Dear Dr. Tatiana,I'm a true armyworm moth, and I've gone deaf in one ear. I've read this is from having too much sex. Trouble is, I'm (sob) still a virgin. So what's happening to me?---Piqued in DarienBe assured, you have nothing to worry about. It's just that your inner ear is now hosting a torrid, incestuous orgy. ...What happened is that one evening when you stopped to sip nectar from a flower, a mite scrambled up your tongue as if it were a ladder. When she reached your face, she crawled through the tangle of your scales and hairs to the outer caverns of your ears... Then she stepped up to the delicate membrane...that screens off the inner ear from the outer ear, and she pierced it. In doing so, she destroyed forever your ability to hear with that ear.After settling and and perhaps taking a light supper of - I'm afraid - your blood, she started to lay her eggs, about eighty in all. A couple of days later, the eggs hatched... First to emerge were the males of the brood; then came all their sisters. The males grew up faster than their sisters, prepared one of the innermost galleries of your ear as a bedchamber, carried their sister brides thence..."And you now get the idea of what's going on in Piqued in Darien's ear. There are some details I cut purely for reasons of space - because the details and examples of various matings is what makes the book so fascinating.Another example, this is part of an answer to a male stickleback whose eggs were stolen. Dr Tatiana brings up the male bowerbird, which also the gender that does the nest building, and has to deal with rivals messing with their nests.:page 73, from Chapter 4: Swords or Pistols, in Part 1, Let Slip the Whores of War! "...Because they are quite big, bowerbirds are easily able to monopolize fruit trees, scattering smaller birds out of their way. Thus, like aristocrats everywhere, most of these birds have lots of free time. And so, naturally, they have a hobby. It's art.Male bowerbirds spent weeks building and decorating elaborate "bowers." Depending on the species, the bower could be anything from a clearing strewn artfully with leaves to huts more than four meters (thirteen feet) wide or towers more than three meters (ten feet) high, woven out of sticks, painted with juice from crushed fruits, and decorated with flowers, mushrooms, feathers, snakeskins, snail shells, butterfly wings, beetle heads - or anything else that catches the artist's eye. One scientist nearly had his camera stolen by a bowerbird who wanted to add it to his decor; another almost lost his socks. Artistic styles differ greatly among populations - even populations of the same species - so that whereas flowers might be fashionable in one area, beetle wings will be all the rage in the next. Moreover, this is no random collection of junk: the objects are selected and placed with great care...Why do they do this? To impress girls, of course. Females come to the bowers to mate. And one way to make your bower look even better than a rival's is to resort to theft and vandalism. Yes, I'm afraid that bowerbirds are not above foul play to further their own ends. Stealing is rife. Rare or fashionable objects vanish from one bower only to appear in another. And some bowers are regularly vandalized or completely destroyed."This example in particular so interested me that if someone had asked me (just after I'd read the page) to join an expedition to observe and take notes on bowerbirds over the next decade I would have probably signed on. (Especially if I'd managed to forget how many poisonous things are frolicking around Australia.) The book is full of such unique examples, pointing out similarities between species and theorizing as to why such behaviors and traits had helped species succeed in the big race to procreate.I do have to add that the chapter on the praying mantis' habit of eating her husband is grim yet amusing. That would be Chapter 6: How to Make Love to a Cannibal. Because it's not just the mantis that tends to do this. So this is science with a sense of humor, albeit sometimes a dark humor. There are end notes and a long bibliography should you want to find out more about any particular creature. (I'm trying not to look and find more to read about the bowerbird - I already have a huge To Read stack.) This is also a great book to pick up, read a chapter or two, and put down. I must admit that I've reread it a few times - but then I'm a bit of a zoology geek.
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  • This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
    January 1, 1970
    This is an excellent book about the the sexual habits of life (not just humans, but all life), examined from an evolutionary perspective. The material is whimsically presented as a collection of sex advice columns from Dr. Tatiana: think Dr. Ruth giving advice to insects and fish, reptiles and mammals. An example of a “letter” from one of her readers, early in the book:“Dear Dr. Tatiana,My boyfriend is the handsomest golden potto I ever saw. He's got beautiful golden fur on his back, creamy whit This is an excellent book about the the sexual habits of life (not just humans, but all life), examined from an evolutionary perspective. The material is whimsically presented as a collection of sex advice columns from Dr. Tatiana: think Dr. Ruth giving advice to insects and fish, reptiles and mammals. An example of a “letter” from one of her readers, early in the book:“Dear Dr. Tatiana,My boyfriend is the handsomest golden potto I ever saw. He's got beautiful golden fur on his back, creamy white fur on his belly, he smells delicious, and he has ever such dainty hands and feet. There's just one thing. Please Dr. Tatiana, why is his penis covered with enormous spines?”Most of the book is focused on animal sexual behavior, but plants and even bacteria are both also touched on. In a remarkable way, the book deanthropomorphizes sex by first anthropomorphizing it, a tricky task to be sure. The writing is humorous, ribald, and highly intelligent. A wide range of topics and behaviors are covered, including such wide ranging mysteries as complex genitalia, promiscuity in both males and females, sperm competition, asexuality, cannibalism of mates, the strange and rare situation of monogamy, hermaphroditism, homosexuality, and incest. And while most of the book is focused on non-human sexual behavior, humans are not left out, with many of the chapters applying some of the factors to human sex and reproduction.Having heard the author (Olivia Judson, a science writer/journalist with a PhD in evolutionary biology from Stanford) speak about the book a few months ago, I must admit that I also "read" the book in her British accent, something which may have added an extra touch of atmosphere. There is definitely a British sense of humor underlying much of the book.Highly recommended!
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  • Punk
    January 1, 1970
    Non-Fiction. Dr. Tatiana is the Dr. Ruth of the animal kingdom, that much is fictional, but the advice she gives is all fact, or, at the very least, theory.This is evolutionary biology framed like a relationship column. Dr. Tatiana takes letters from the birds, the bees, and the stick insects and advises them on their difficult love lives. It's a great way to get information across and the book is structured well, one topic easily leading to another. Judson never gets too technical and covers a Non-Fiction. Dr. Tatiana is the Dr. Ruth of the animal kingdom, that much is fictional, but the advice she gives is all fact, or, at the very least, theory.This is evolutionary biology framed like a relationship column. Dr. Tatiana takes letters from the birds, the bees, and the stick insects and advises them on their difficult love lives. It's a great way to get information across and the book is structured well, one topic easily leading to another. Judson never gets too technical and covers a lot of different sexual and reproductive practices, even dipping into the plant world from time to time. The book also has an index, author's notes, and an extensive bibliography, making it a good resource to find specific information, or to find further reading on the subject. The problem comes when Judson takes the conversational tone of an advice columnist and applies it to animals; it's almost as if she forgets that her readers are still human. She makes a lot of bad word choices. She repeatedly uses the word "slut" and its synonyms in ways that could be considered negative. She uses "cripple" and "imbecile" and there are entire chapters on forced sexual activity ("rape") and incest. At times, reading this was very much like being poked in the eye.I do love the way she repeatedly uses "sexy" to describe the myriad characteristics that animals find attractive; it's a good reminder that everyone has different things that turn them on, and overall her message seems to be one of acceptance for those of different genders, sexual practices, or lack of sexual practices, but the problematic language undermines that attitude.Three stars, would have gotten four if not for the consistently poor word choices; it took away a lot of my enjoyment of the book.
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  • Marvin
    January 1, 1970
    I believe everyone has something in their sex life that others would think is a little kinky. Some of us worry about that. But I know the perfect solution to reduce that worry. Read Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice for All Creation. You will quickly discover that, based on the wide variety of sex practiced in the animal kingdom, you are not really all that kinky. Well, at least you don't bite off the head of your lover....I hope.That's my advice for today. What did you expect? Masters and Johnson?
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  • Jafar
    January 1, 1970
    "The pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable." — Lord Chesterfield describing sex to his son.
  • Sadie
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a really fun way to read about different reproductive strategies and behaviors in the animal world. Dr. Judson gives some strikingly funny examples in a "Dr. Ruth" framework, then rationally explains how the behaviors and strategies might have evolved. Unlike some other scientists writings for popular audiences, she is very good at pointing out how little we know about why or even how some of the processes work. Most of all, though, I appreciate the way she has referenced the whole This book is a really fun way to read about different reproductive strategies and behaviors in the animal world. Dr. Judson gives some strikingly funny examples in a "Dr. Ruth" framework, then rationally explains how the behaviors and strategies might have evolved. Unlike some other scientists writings for popular audiences, she is very good at pointing out how little we know about why or even how some of the processes work. Most of all, though, I appreciate the way she has referenced the whole book unintrusively. A friend and I were recently berating a certain famous scientist (Jared Diamond) for writing popular books which are well written and widely read, and thus taken as gospel truths, and for which you cannot pick out specific sources - not that he didn't use them, but that it makes it hard to argue against them scientifically because you can't find the grounding of them to start with. Point aside, Olivia Judson manages to bridge the science-popular bridge by including references, not in the text, but at the end, with a nice road map for each chapter of "if you want to know more about Gorilla strategies, here's a few good papers..." which is a very gentle way to let people with the desire to know more, pursue it. In all, this is a great book and I want more. I left off one star because it's not the most WOW inducing book for me, but it definitely is a great read.
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  • Naomi
    January 1, 1970
    Well... I enjoyed this book very much and I probably would have given it five stars had I bought it myself. But the book was given to me by the author's father *unsigned* with the promise that she would autograph it the next time she visited. But it's not like I kept the book at his house and now she's living on another continent and seriously, it's not like I need to reread sex advice for bugs, so, Lady, you need to come sign this thing so that I can regift it to my virgin god daughters. Actual Well... I enjoyed this book very much and I probably would have given it five stars had I bought it myself. But the book was given to me by the author's father *unsigned* with the promise that she would autograph it the next time she visited. But it's not like I kept the book at his house and now she's living on another continent and seriously, it's not like I need to reread sex advice for bugs, so, Lady, you need to come sign this thing so that I can regift it to my virgin god daughters. Actually, just send me two new signed copies. I'm keeping mine.
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  • Abigail
    January 1, 1970
    I LOVE this book. Written in the style of an advice-columnist for all organisms big and small, Olivia Judson-- a Stanford- and Oxford-educated PhD-- makes learning biology fun and easy. This is all about evolutionary biology as it applies to sex, and this is fascinating. The variety of ways different species interact, have sex, reproduce, eat their spouses, kill their children. . . it's fabulous. It actually made me appreciate things like sea worms and mites. Mites!!
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  • rivka
    January 1, 1970
    Good bathroom reading. Works well in small snippets.Amusing and educational; would have preferred the omission of the lectures. Just because something is normal for bugs or snails doesn't make it so for humans. And I prefer not to have thinly-disguised anti-religious screeds tacked onto otherwise enjoyable books.
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  • Remo
    January 1, 1970
    Al ver este libro en el anaquel de la librería, justo al lado de los de Stephen Jay Gould, pensé que alguien se había confundido al catalogarlo. Pero al hojearlo descubrí que no, que era un estupendo libro de biología evolutiva del sexo para el que la autora había elegido un formato llamémoslo peculiar. Se trata de un consultorio radiofónico en el que animales de todas las especies exponen sus dudas y cuitas acerca de los mecanismos del sexo en diferentes especies, de la evolución que ha llevado Al ver este libro en el anaquel de la librería, justo al lado de los de Stephen Jay Gould, pensé que alguien se había confundido al catalogarlo. Pero al hojearlo descubrí que no, que era un estupendo libro de biología evolutiva del sexo para el que la autora había elegido un formato llamémoslo peculiar. Se trata de un consultorio radiofónico en el que animales de todas las especies exponen sus dudas y cuitas acerca de los mecanismos del sexo en diferentes especies, de la evolución que ha llevado a la diferenciación sexual, del papel de machos y hembras, de muchísimas cosas. Las explicaciones son claras y sencillas, de forma que hasta un ignorante integral en biología como yo puede seguirlas sin demasiados problemas. Está bien escrito y tiene mucha, mucha, mucha información. Leyéndolo nos enteramos de que hay especies que tienen hasta diecisiete sexos, en lugar de los dos a los que estamos acostumbrados. Hay un talk show en el que una bacteria reconoce que su especie lleva varios millones de años sin practicar el sexo, para furia e iracundia del público, que la abuchea. Aprenderemos sobre las estrategias de machos y hembras de mil especies para maximizar las posibilidades de procreación, una especie de guerra físico-química para garantizar que las hembras sólo tendrán hijos del macho que emplea estas armas, mientras los demás machos intentan romper las defensas y ser ellos los progenitores de toda la camada, al mismo tiempo que las hembras buscan aparearse con cuantos más machos mejor para garantizar la supervivencia de más desencientes... Hay muchas especies raras en cuanto a costumbres sexuales por ahí, estimados lectores. Merece la pena echarle un vistazo al libro. Mi nota: Muy interesante.
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  • T. K. Elliott (Tiffany)
    January 1, 1970
    This is the only biology non-fiction book I have found so fascinating that I read it while walking (nearly fell down the stairs) on the loo (no comment) and in the bath (my Kobo heroically risking death by drowning).The conceit of various creatures writing to the wise Dr Tatiana for advice on their bizarre sex lives gives the book a certain verve and amusement value that, for example, my university texts did not have. The facts and theories, however, are just as good.Judson (or Dr Tatiana) has o This is the only biology non-fiction book I have found so fascinating that I read it while walking (nearly fell down the stairs) on the loo (no comment) and in the bath (my Kobo heroically risking death by drowning).The conceit of various creatures writing to the wise Dr Tatiana for advice on their bizarre sex lives gives the book a certain verve and amusement value that, for example, my university texts did not have. The facts and theories, however, are just as good.Judson (or Dr Tatiana) has obviously picked on the weirder reaches of sexual behaviour, just as I suspect the agony-aunt columns in newspapers do, but her discussion places each of these behaviours in its evolutionary place. Nobody's sexual conduct is bizarre for the sake of it (except maybe Homo sapiens, but that's a different book) - there is a reason why heads get bitten off, penises are covered in spines, and some organisms change sex, and Dr Tatiana explains the evolutionary logic behind each. She even briefly considers the evolutionary value of homosexuality: it has persisted in many species, so what is it for?Apart from the sheer fascination, the thing that I most valued about this book was the comprehensive list of references. It's one thing to be interesting - it's quite another to provide the material to allow the interested reader to go and find more detail should they wish to do so.I would recommend this book not only for anyone interested in the evolutionary biology of sex and wanting an overview of the landscape, as it were, but also anyone who is contemplating writing a science-fiction book involving aliens.
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  • Bill
    January 1, 1970
    As I started to read this book, I was at first disappointed. I am a big fan of Olivia Judson's New York Times' columns and was looking forward to finally getting around to this. And it was written with her usual efficiency and humor so that was good. But...really...I didn't care about the sex lives of "all creation" and found myself really bored. Bummer.But I pushed on, and as I should have expected, I was quite rewarded. The book is a fascinating compendium of creatures large and small and how As I started to read this book, I was at first disappointed. I am a big fan of Olivia Judson's New York Times' columns and was looking forward to finally getting around to this. And it was written with her usual efficiency and humor so that was good. But...really...I didn't care about the sex lives of "all creation" and found myself really bored. Bummer.But I pushed on, and as I should have expected, I was quite rewarded. The book is a fascinating compendium of creatures large and small and how evolutionary forces have crafted their unique aspects. Neither too heavy or too light, it's really a near-perfect balance of comedy and science (with the emphasis on science, of course). The only thing I found myself wishing for was a bit of insight into our human species. Perhaps the next book (which is long overdue!)?This is, in my opinion, another instance where if you can read this book and still not believe in evolution, you need help. Because if God created all these creatures, well, then he is a bit crazy and I'm sure you don't want your god to be a crazy god.Most fascinating factoid to me: the figs that you may eat are filled with dead, male, wasps. Enjoy!
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  • Cris
    January 1, 1970
    As a science doctoral student, I received this book from a professor teaching a class on epigenetics and other non-Mendelian hereditary patterns. Generally, despite what others seem to think because of my current career path, I do not enjoy reading science-related books in my spare time-- that's what fiction is for! However, I gave this book a go and was so pleasantly surprised to realise that I not only enjoyed it, but actually really liked it. It explores many of the evolutionary aspects of se As a science doctoral student, I received this book from a professor teaching a class on epigenetics and other non-Mendelian hereditary patterns. Generally, despite what others seem to think because of my current career path, I do not enjoy reading science-related books in my spare time-- that's what fiction is for! However, I gave this book a go and was so pleasantly surprised to realise that I not only enjoyed it, but actually really liked it. It explores many of the evolutionary aspects of sex and sexual behaviours in a variety of species (with the ultimate [mostly unstated] parallels to the usefulness & nature of sex in Homo sapiens) in a manner that is highly scientifically accurate but is also accessible to the general populace by structuring it as a "Dear Abby" sex advice column. Albeit some of the science cited is now outdated (the book would benefit from an updated edition!), it's definitely worth a read for anyone who has ever wondered how & why sex came about when it seems like such an inefficient reproductive strategy.
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  • Soner Işıksal
    January 1, 1970
    Bir evrimsel biyolog olan yazarın yarattığı Dr.Tatiana karakteri Güzin Abla'dan farksız. Dert yananların insan değil, bin bir çeşit hayvan olduğunu saymazsak tabii...Kitabın neredeyse tamamı hayvanlar aleminden gelen kimi çarpık, kimi yürek burkan mektuplar ve Dr.Tatiana'nın cevaplarından oluşuyor.Örnek vereyim:"Sevgili Dr.TatianaBenim adım Rob, ben bir tahtakurusuyum, Xylocoris maculipennis. Şöyle bir şey duydum: Eğer dostum Fergus ile seks yaparsam, Samantha ile bir dahaki seviştiğinde benim s Bir evrimsel biyolog olan yazarın yarattığı Dr.Tatiana karakteri Güzin Abla'dan farksız. Dert yananların insan değil, bin bir çeşit hayvan olduğunu saymazsak tabii...Kitabın neredeyse tamamı hayvanlar aleminden gelen kimi çarpık, kimi yürek burkan mektuplar ve Dr.Tatiana'nın cevaplarından oluşuyor.Örnek vereyim:"Sevgili Dr.TatianaBenim adım Rob, ben bir tahtakurusuyum, Xylocoris maculipennis. Şöyle bir şey duydum: Eğer dostum Fergus ile seks yaparsam, Samantha ile bir dahaki seviştiğinde benim spermimi ona iletirmiş. Harbiden mi?"Tatiana da muzip cevaplarıyla ve bilgi bombardımanı şeklinde verdiği yüzlerce örnekle doğadaki şaşırtıcı gen aktarım ve çeşitlilik sağlama yollarını açıklıyor.Neler yok ki... Dişisini etkilemek için kumdan kaleler yapan balıklar, yaptığı kuleleri kelebek kanatları, böcek kafaları, yılan derileriyle süsleyen sanatçı çardakkuşları, kendisinden 200000 kat büyük dişisinin burnundan içeri girip yumurta peşinde koşan erkek solucanlar ve doğadaki müthiş mekanizmalar...Şiddetle öneriyorum.
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  • J.P. Drury
    January 1, 1970
    While Judson lays out some fantastic natural history, she ultimately spreads herself too thin and falls short of the synthesis she hopes to deliver. Her engagement with sexual selection theory is passe; nothing new, nothing critical.Perhaps her biggest offense is using the word "rape" to describe forced copulation, a mistake that has been argued against for several decades by feminist biologists. This most grave mistake is felt most deeply when she suggests that rape is an adaptive behavior, eve While Judson lays out some fantastic natural history, she ultimately spreads herself too thin and falls short of the synthesis she hopes to deliver. Her engagement with sexual selection theory is passe; nothing new, nothing critical.Perhaps her biggest offense is using the word "rape" to describe forced copulation, a mistake that has been argued against for several decades by feminist biologists. This most grave mistake is felt most deeply when she suggests that rape is an adaptive behavior, even in humans! Don't believe everything you read.She makes a lot of jumps on very data-less ground and commits the ultimate crime a scientist can make by convincing her readers that something is true that we are not in a position to assess.Although the last third of the book is a pretty fair (if not cliche) treatment of the evolution of sex, my advice to all creation is to NOT take this book as the end all be all of evolutionary biology. The story is far more interesting and mysterious than Judson would let on.
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  • Carrie Borchardt
    January 1, 1970
    Judson's quirky how-to guide to evolutionary biology which reads as a raunchy magazine advice column is a must read for anyone interested in natural selection through mating. Judson unapologetically parades the anomalous and jarring ways nature has selected to replicate itself while anthropomorphizing the specific dilemmas each species face in its brutal struggle to survive and reproduce. Thoroughly researched, wittily written and charmingly provocative, you'll find yourself empathizing with a s Judson's quirky how-to guide to evolutionary biology which reads as a raunchy magazine advice column is a must read for anyone interested in natural selection through mating. Judson unapologetically parades the anomalous and jarring ways nature has selected to replicate itself while anthropomorphizing the specific dilemmas each species face in its brutal struggle to survive and reproduce. Thoroughly researched, wittily written and charmingly provocative, you'll find yourself empathizing with a slew of divergent beings just trying to have a little fun and leave a little legacy before their inevitable demise. If nothing else, you'll have a less prescriptive view of sexuality after reading. After all, if one enjoys postcoital cannibalism, hermaphroditic orgies, penis fencing, gang raping, gender bending, frantic promiscuity and eighty-five million year dry spells, who are we, the immature Homo Sapiens species, to judge strategies that have flourished longer than we've existed?
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  • Alan Marchant
    January 1, 1970
    Olivia Judson's tell-all book would rate at least 4 stars if she had stuck to her knitting. She provides plenty of fascinating details illustrating the diversity of sex in the natural world.But the presentation is diluted by her tiresome sex therapist schtick. Then there is the repetitive reliance on the empty Darwinian tautology to explain gee-whiz sexual phenomena. In many cases, she provides the necessary detail (protection for the young, eliminating competing gametes, improved energy efficie Olivia Judson's tell-all book would rate at least 4 stars if she had stuck to her knitting. She provides plenty of fascinating details illustrating the diversity of sex in the natural world.But the presentation is diluted by her tiresome sex therapist schtick. Then there is the repetitive reliance on the empty Darwinian tautology to explain gee-whiz sexual phenomena. In many cases, she provides the necessary detail (protection for the young, eliminating competing gametes, improved energy efficiency . . .). But when she doesn't have a real explanation, Ms. Judson should just say "I don't know" instead of invoking Darwin.The last chapter (explaining the evolutionary headwinds faced by asexual reproduction) approaches the important topic of venereal disease. But like sex experts everywhere, she averts her gaze just when the going gets good.
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  • Elaine
    January 1, 1970
    If you're looking for a fun-filled factoid tour of the war of the sexes, this is a good one to zip through. It's written like an advice column in a newspaper, and each section starts out with a letter from a certain specie to Dr. Tatiana (the first one begins with Twiggy, the stick insect..."Dear Dr. Tatiana. My name's Twiggy and I'm a stick insect. It's with great embarrassment that I write to you while copulating, but my mate and I have been copulating for ten weeks already. I'm bored out of m If you're looking for a fun-filled factoid tour of the war of the sexes, this is a good one to zip through. It's written like an advice column in a newspaper, and each section starts out with a letter from a certain specie to Dr. Tatiana (the first one begins with Twiggy, the stick insect..."Dear Dr. Tatiana. My name's Twiggy and I'm a stick insect. It's with great embarrassment that I write to you while copulating, but my mate and I have been copulating for ten weeks already. I'm bored out of my skull, but he shows no sign of flagging. How can I get him to quit?"In the process of replying and explicating, Dr. Tatiana debunks a whole bunch of myths about the two sexes. You'll learn about species that bite off their sex partners' heads during sex, as well as the ingenuous strategies other male species employ to keep their females theirs. :-)
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  • Leslie
    January 1, 1970
    We read this for my book group. Olivia Judson is an evolutionary biologist who makes her living studying the mating behaviors of various species. She writes for both The Economist and the New York Times.For this book, she takes on the persona of Dr. Tatiana, a Dear Abbey-like sex therapist, who fields letters from all sorts of animals having troubles in the bedroom. Here's one example:Dear Dr. Tatiana,I'm a European praying mantis, and I've noticed I enjoy sex more if I bite my lovers' heads off We read this for my book group. Olivia Judson is an evolutionary biologist who makes her living studying the mating behaviors of various species. She writes for both The Economist and the New York Times.For this book, she takes on the persona of Dr. Tatiana, a Dear Abbey-like sex therapist, who fields letters from all sorts of animals having troubles in the bedroom. Here's one example:Dear Dr. Tatiana,I'm a European praying mantis, and I've noticed I enjoy sex more if I bite my lovers' heads off first. . . .Do you find this too?I Like 'Em Headless in LondonShe then goes on to provide her advice to this insect, but really, she's just explaining the science and evolutionary possibilities for the very odd sexual behaviors we find in nature.I thought this was an interesting book. Probably would have been enough to just read a long article, but interesting none-the-less.
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  • Chelsea
    January 1, 1970
    Judson whirls through evolutionary biology, highlighting some of its most interesting and magical stories. Judson's conceit-- sex advice columnist for the animal (well, organism) kingdom is delightful at first but grows a little tedious as the book progresses. Her anthropomorphism is sometimes confusing-- the reader isn't clear if she's attributing desires and preferences to organisms for stylistic effect, or because they possess these things. This is most problematic in her section on rape. Her Judson whirls through evolutionary biology, highlighting some of its most interesting and magical stories. Judson's conceit-- sex advice columnist for the animal (well, organism) kingdom is delightful at first but grows a little tedious as the book progresses. Her anthropomorphism is sometimes confusing-- the reader isn't clear if she's attributing desires and preferences to organisms for stylistic effect, or because they possess these things. This is most problematic in her section on rape. Her anthropomorphic blurred us compounded here by the fact that the section coverage rape is the only one in which Judson discusses humans-- explaining rape through evolutionary psychology. Why not the sections on promiscuity, child care, monogamy, cannibalism? It's a real drawback in an otherwise fascinating book.
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  • Scurra
    January 1, 1970
    Pop-science books are quite hard to write, because the author is often too close to their subject and tends to make assumptions about the reader. Olivia Judson side-steps this issue nicely by adopting an alternate persona of a sort of tv confessional show host as her authorial voice, and maintaining this conceit throughout the book, which is a glorious romp through the insane reproductive methods employed throughout the living world, from assexual to multisexual and all points in-between.She tak Pop-science books are quite hard to write, because the author is often too close to their subject and tends to make assumptions about the reader. Olivia Judson side-steps this issue nicely by adopting an alternate persona of a sort of tv confessional show host as her authorial voice, and maintaining this conceit throughout the book, which is a glorious romp through the insane reproductive methods employed throughout the living world, from assexual to multisexual and all points in-between.She takes particular delight in illustrating that what we consider to be somehow unique human perversions are not only mirrored in the animal world, but sometimes made to look pretty tame by comparison.Don't expect a serious textbook on evolutionary biology - there's very little here that tries to explain why these strange circumstances came about; instead just enjoy the wild ride.
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  • Debs
    January 1, 1970
    Although it was entertaining, it was a bit watered down for my taste - it's primary goal seemed to be to entertain ("teehee, I'm reading about sex") rather than make a serious study of it. I found that she sometimes jumped to conclusions that didn't have much to do with what she was saying or just randomly switched subjects.If entertainment what you're looking for, you'll like it. If you want a little more depth and want to think seriously, try "Bonk". It was fun, but I tend to get more out of m Although it was entertaining, it was a bit watered down for my taste - it's primary goal seemed to be to entertain ("teehee, I'm reading about sex") rather than make a serious study of it. I found that she sometimes jumped to conclusions that didn't have much to do with what she was saying or just randomly switched subjects.If entertainment what you're looking for, you'll like it. If you want a little more depth and want to think seriously, try "Bonk". It was fun, but I tend to get more out of more serious books that assume at least a basic grasp of evolutionary/genetic knowledge, so this one wasn't quite for me.
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  • Jenny Schmenny
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, the idea is that "Dr. Tatiana" has a lonelyhearts column, in which she answers questions from the animal kingdom, like, "Dear Dr. Tatiana, I'm a female newt mite, and every time my seventeen boyfriends mate with me, sixteen die. What's up with that?" And the good doctor will couch an answer in a theory of evolutionary biology, along with many other juicy reproductive tidbits from the animal kingdom. What's not to love? I liked the facts, but got bored with the voice and gimmick. Also, I'm Okay, the idea is that "Dr. Tatiana" has a lonelyhearts column, in which she answers questions from the animal kingdom, like, "Dear Dr. Tatiana, I'm a female newt mite, and every time my seventeen boyfriends mate with me, sixteen die. What's up with that?" And the good doctor will couch an answer in a theory of evolutionary biology, along with many other juicy reproductive tidbits from the animal kingdom. What's not to love? I liked the facts, but got bored with the voice and gimmick. Also, I'm a wuss - can't be bothered to read about chromosomes.Also, thanks to this book, I couldn't eat figs for a year.
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  • David Albert
    January 1, 1970
    The conceit of the book (advice columnist responding to letters from insects and microbes) is a bit silly and occasionally tiresome, but it doesn't get in the way too much. The style of the final 30 pages, written as an episode of a Mauri Povich style talk show, is more annoying and space consuming than the rest of the book, but the information that is slowly doled out over those 30 is none the less interesting. Overall, this book has lots of discrete, fascinating stories about sex, gender, and The conceit of the book (advice columnist responding to letters from insects and microbes) is a bit silly and occasionally tiresome, but it doesn't get in the way too much. The style of the final 30 pages, written as an episode of a Mauri Povich style talk show, is more annoying and space consuming than the rest of the book, but the information that is slowly doled out over those 30 is none the less interesting. Overall, this book has lots of discrete, fascinating stories about sex, gender, and a tiny bit of genetics. Whether you love or hate the fictional correspondence aspect, it's still worth a read if you find the freaks in nature fascinating.
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  • Connie
    January 1, 1970
    This book was filled with intriguing facts about the odd mating and sex habits of insects and other animals. I liked the conceit of Dr. Tatiana receiving letters from confused critters, however I thought her answers were often too long-winded and cited too many examples. By the end of each answer, I had often forgotten what the original question was and my mind would be swimming with so many different types of creatures and behavior. It is a good primer in how evolutionary biology gets expressed This book was filled with intriguing facts about the odd mating and sex habits of insects and other animals. I liked the conceit of Dr. Tatiana receiving letters from confused critters, however I thought her answers were often too long-winded and cited too many examples. By the end of each answer, I had often forgotten what the original question was and my mind would be swimming with so many different types of creatures and behavior. It is a good primer in how evolutionary biology gets expressed in so many different ways.
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