Dance of Life: Courtship in the Animal Kingdom

Dance of Life: Courtship in the Animal Kingdom

by Mark Jerome Walters

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Birds do it, bees do it,'' also jellyfish, frogs, elephants and the rest of the animals. Since sexual reproduction got under way some 250-300 million years ago, each species has evolved a pattern of communication as a prelude to mating. Science writer Walters, an editor at Reader's Digest, surveys sex and the strategies of survival, from the genetic programming of the horseshoe crab to the complex social and sexual rituals of the pygmy chimpanzee. He discusses sound (song), scent (pheromone), the struggle for dominance and alternative techniques (sexual interference, mimicry, submission) to gain a mate. There is a firm ecological basis for monogamy among birds (90%), relating to food supply and predators. Walters writes that 97% of mammals are polygamous; for the male, this behavior permits the survival of the maximum number of offspring. He reminds us that sex is expensive for all living creatures in both genetic and energetic terms, that animals are not a mirror image, but a shadow of ourselves. It is an intriguing subject and Walters does full justice to it. Photos not seen by PW. (January 20)
Library Journal - Library Journal
``Sex is expensive in both genetic and evolutionary terms.'' In fact, according to Walters, the majority of organisms reproduce quite well without it. This book explores the mystery of why sexual reproduction began and the ways in which its appearance has led to both antagonism and social bonding. Walters, an editor with Reader's Digest , examines some rather extraordinary behaviors in such animals as the primitive horseshoe crab and the graceful whooping crane. He also discusses the environmental constraints that lead animals to choose either monogamy or polygamy. This engagingly written and well-researched volume should appeal to a wide audience. For public libraries. Laurie Bartolini, Lincoln Lib., Springfield, Ill.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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