The Dawn Of The Deed: The Prehistoric Origins Of Sex

Paperback | April 29, 2014

byJohn A. Long

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We all know about the birds and the bees, but what about the ancient placoderm fishes and the dinosaurs? The history of sex is as old as life itself—and as complicated and mysterious. And despite centuries of study there is always more to know. In 2008, paleontologist John A. Long and a team of researchers revealed their discovery of a placoderm fish fossil, known as “the mother fish,” which at 380 million years old revealed the oldest vertebrate embryo—the earliest known example of internal fertilization. As Long explains, this find led to the reexamination of countless fish fossils and the discovery of previously undetected embryos. As a result, placoderms are now considered to be the first species to have had intimate sexual reproduction or sex as we know it—sort of.
 
Inspired by this incredible find, Long began a quest to uncover the paleontological and evolutionary history of copulation and insemination. In The Dawn of the Deed, he takes readers on an entertaining and lively tour through the sex lives of ancient fish and exposes the unusual mating habits of arthropods, tortoises, and even a well-endowed (16.5 inches!) Argentine Duck. Long discusses these significant discoveries alongside what we know about reproductive biology and evolutionary theory, using the fossil record to provide a provocative account of prehistoric sex. The Dawn of the Deed also explores fascinating revelations about animal reproduction, from homosexual penguins to monogamous seahorses to the difficulties of dinosaur romance and how sexual organs in ancient shark-like fishes actually relate to our own sexual anatomy.
 
The Dawn of the Deed is Long’s own story of what it’s like to be a part of a discovery that rewrites evolutionary history as well as an absolutely rollicking guide to sex throughout the ages in the animal kingdom. It’s natural history with a naughty wink.
 
 

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We all know about the birds and the bees, but what about the ancient placoderm fishes and the dinosaurs? The history of sex is as old as life itself—and as complicated and mysterious. And despite centuries of study there is always more to know. In 2008, paleontologist John A. Long and a team of researchers revealed their discovery of a...

John A. Long is vice president of research and collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. His other books include, most recently, Frozen in Time: Prehistoric Life of Antarctica and The Rise of Fishes.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 1.1 inPublished:April 29, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022614349X

ISBN - 13:9780226143491

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface: Sex, Death and Evolution
 
1. The Machismo of the Argentine Duck
2. The Mother of All Fossils
3. The Ptyctodontid Kind of Congress
4. Announcing Fossil Sex to the Queen
5. Paleozoic Paternity Problems
6. Finding the Daddy Fish
7. Down and Dirty in the Devonian
8. At the Dawn of Archaic Sex
9. Sex and the Single Ostracod
10. Sex on the Beach
11. Dinosaur Sex and Other Earthshaking Discoveries
12. We Ain’t Nothing but Mammals
13. Sperm Wars: What Fossils Can’t Tell Us
14. From Clasper to Penis: We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby
 
Epilogue: The Greatest Mystery of Biology
Notes
Acknowledgements
Index

Editorial Reviews

“This highly entertaining book remarkably informative book on the evolution of sex Dust mites inseminate their partners by stabbing their abdomens. The Argentine duck’s penis measures a whopping 16.5 inches. Ancient fish copulated male-on-female, rather than spawning in the water as modern fish do. These are a just a few of the revelations in paleontologist John Long’s highly entertaining and informative book on the evolution of sex.”