Book Nook: Review of Dawn of the Deed by John A. Long

Taking a look at a new nonfiction book at the Medfield Library. It sounds a bit racy, but it's a really interesting look at the evolutionary process.

I get a kick out of ordering books for the library. Sometimes it's the cover image, and sometimes it's the title, but usually every magazine I use to order books has at least one really funny nonfiction item in it.

A couple months ago, I stumbled across this one, Dawn of the Deed, with appropriately colored male and female dinosaur skeletons getting down and dirty. As I read more about the book, it actually sounded really interesting and posed several interesting questions. Notably, how did sexual copulation develop? When did it develop? and why do different species have different adaptations for sexual dimorphism and reproduction? 

Those might sound like some heavy questions, but John Long does an excellent job at keeping the terminology he uses at a layman's level and defines words that might be challenging to the average reader. Since this book is told partly as a memoir of Long working with prehistoric fish skeletons, the language is actually very easy to follow, and has that personal attachment that makes the subject less dry and boring, and more amusing to follow. Long also gets really into explaining how sexual selection and mating rituals for animals like spiders, frogs, and echidna are far more deviant than previously believed. Humans aren't the only ones with creativity in the bedroom. However, Long has done his part to make me even more freaked out by spiders and bed bugs which apparently have male parts that have a sharp spike on the end used for STABBING THE FEMALE IN THE OVARIES! Basically bypassing all the niceties involved in reproduction. Uh, yuck, but at the same time, fascinating.

I am always excited to see new scientific books on topics like reproduction in our catalogs because they are topics that can be uncomfortable to read or extremely technical.  Long's work is a great example of a book that makes the learning fun, interesting and open. With his funny premise and entertaining anecdotes, you'll be surprised at all the information you are really learning.

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