New book sheds light on evolution of human reproduction

A new book explores the evolution of human reproduction.

Washington: A new book explores the evolution of human reproduction.

Readers will glean hundreds of surprising pieces of information from `How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction`, a new book by Robert Martin, a member of the University`s of Chicago`s Committee on Evolutionary Biology and curator of biological anthropology at he Field Museum.

Readers will also learn that all mammal eggs are the same size-from those of a tiny mouse to those of a huge elephant. And the same is true for mammal sperms.

They will learn that relative size of human testes indicates that we evolved to live in social groups with one-male breeding units practicing either monogamy or polygamy, usually the latter.

And other facts like at the end of the Ming Dynasty there were some 70,000 eunuchs in the service of the emperor, and that there are half a million frozen embryos stored in the United States.

But what`s the point? It could be good cocktail party conversation.

In fact, it was precisely such a question that prompted Martin to write this book.

Years ago, when he had just finished teaching a course on primate evolution at the University of Zurich, a student asked him, "So what? What`s the utility of studying this subject?"

Nevertheless, the student`s question stuck with him, so wrote this book to connect primate evolution with modern human concerns and conditions.

Indeed, the book is full of pertinent facts, figures, anecdotes, and analysis about human evolution, expertly woven together to inform current issues, including birth control, enhanced reproductive techniques, miscarriage, cloning, breast feeding, the effects of toxins on human reproduction, and the dramatic drop in sperm counts-all synthesized into a comprehensive synopsis of how we got where we are today, as a species, and where we`re headed.


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