272 pages, no illustrations
1000 million years ago, a sexual revolution occurred on Earth. Sex happened for the first time; from this moment the world became ever more colourful and bizarre, ringing with elaborate songs and dances, epic battles, and rallying cries as the desires of males and females collided, generation after generation. All of your ancestors took part and succeeded – an unbroken chain of sex right back to the dawn of complex life on Earth. Well done you. Well done everything.
The world in which we live rings, bleeds, and howls with sex. It's everywhere. Right now warring hordes are locking horns, preening feathers, rampaging lustfully across the savanna, questioning the fidelity of the ones they love. Birds are singing, flowers bloom. A million females choose; a billion penises ejaculate (or snap off); a trillion sperm battle, block and tackle.
Sex made planet Earth sexy.
Written in a brilliantly engaging style by biologist Jules Howard, this fascinating and highly readable work covers the how and why of sex on Earth, in all its diversity. From sperm wars to cuckoldry, hermaphrodites and virgin births, spent males, racy harems, clitoral births, hips, breasts and birdsong, penis-percussion, and those riskiest and most elusive of all traits, monogamy and true love, all this and more is discussed in Sex on Earth, as Jules takes us on a voyage of discovery of the ins and outs of animal reproduction.
"A refreshingly self-aware exploration of the most intimate moments in nature and how the incredible variety of life has led us to frame our own thoughts about this near-ubiquitous biological drive"
– Brian Switek, National Geographic
"Howard has written with Bill Bryson – like wit about the sex of pandas, dinosaurs, frogs, flamingos, hedgehogs, insects, and other creatures. Readers may laugh while they learn."
" [...] A writer who blends professional expertise in zoology with charm, wit, and a cockeyed sense of humor. What better guide through nature's red-light district could one ask for?"
– Natural History Magazine
" [...] does an admirable job of separating the scientific from the smutty [...] this book is highly entertaining and informative."
– John Bradshaw, BBC Focus
" [...] the infectious optimism of his fascination with an Earth full of beings doing exactly what they need to go on gives the reader a comforting sense that, in the grand scheme of things, everything is right with the world."
– Publisher's Weekly
"Howard's jubilant sense of discovery and his delight in telling what he has found make him a bright, cheeky guide to an intriguing and essential part of the natural world"
– The Dispatch
"Sex on Earth has taught me a lot of cool tips [...] Let us celebrate this journey from womb to world SEX marks the spot!"
– Ralph Steadman
"A playful, delightful, at times hilarious journey of discovery"
– Jonathan Balcombe, author of Pleasurable Kingdom
"Quirky, irreverent and endlessly fascinating"
– Melissa Harrison, author of Clay
"Jules Howard delves enthusiastically into the intimacies, peculiarities, and – sometimes – depravities of animal reproduction, A delightfully informative and fast-paced account of how animals 'do it'
– Virginia Morell, author of Animal Wise
"An enjoyable romp through the most eye-opening research and fascinating stories behind some of the world's most carnal critters"
– Ben Garrod, TV presenter and evolutionary biologist
We all know about the birds and the bees, but what about the ancient...
Introduction: Yang Guang, Thank You, Ma'am
Chapter 1: Jurassic Pork
Chapter 2: The Irascible Hulk
Chapter 3: Waiting for Frog 'O'
Chapter 4: The Cloaca Monologues
Chapter 5: The Aedeagus Complex
Chapter 6: The Town that Sperm Built
Chapter 7: Land of the Sexless Zombie Time-travellers
Chapter 8: The Human Frequency
Chapter 9: The Insurmountable Hump
Chapter 10: The Pink in Evolution's Rainbow
Chapter 11: Mite of the Living Dead
Chapter 12: The Greatest Story Never Told
Chapter 13: Sex: The Arena Tour
Chapter 14: My Chemical Romance
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Jules Howard is a zoologist, writer, blogger and broadcaster. He writes on a host of topics relating to zoology and wildlife conservation, and appears regularly in BBC Wildlife Magazine and on radio and TV, including on BBC's The One Show, Nature and The Living World as well as BBC Breakfast and Radio 4's Today programme. Jules also runs a social enterprise that has brought almost 100 000 young people closer to the natural world. He lives in Northamptonshire with his wife and two children.