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Odd Couples:
Extraordinary Differences between the Sexes in the Animal Kingdom
Daphne J. Fairbairn

One of American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Books for General Audiences and Young Adults 2014

Paperback | 2015 | $19.95 | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780691169781
312 pp. | 5 3/4 x 9 | 17 color illus. 5 halftones. 12 line illus. 7 tables.
Hardcover | 2013 | $27.95 | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780691141961
312 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 17 color illus. 5 halftones. 12 line illus. 7 tables.
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While we joke that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, our gender differences can't compare to those of many other animals. For instance, the male garden spider spontaneously dies after mating with a female more than fifty times his size. And male blanket octopuses employ a copulatory arm longer than their own bodies to mate with females that outweigh them by four orders of magnitude. Why do these gender gulfs exist?

Introducing readers to important discoveries in animal behavior and evolution, Odd Couples explores some of the most extraordinary sexual differences in the animal world. Daphne Fairbairn uncovers the unique and bizarre characteristics of these remarkable species and the special strategies they use to maximize reproductive success. Fairbairn also considers humans and explains that although we are keenly aware of our own sexual differences, they are unexceptional within the vast animal world.

Looking at some of the most amazing creatures on the planet, Odd Couples sheds astonishing light on what it means to be male or female in the animal kingdom.

Daphne J. Fairbairn is professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside. She has written widely on the science of sexual differences.


"Balancing descriptive natural history with probing evolutionary biology, Fairbairn (Sex, Size & Gender Roles, coeditor), professor of biology at the University of California Riverside, examines eight striking cases of extreme size differences between males and females of the same species. . . . The conclusion she draws from this amazing diversity is as profound as it is simple: 'there is no "normal" or "typical" pattern of sexual differentiation across the animal kingdom.' "--Publishers Weekly

"I found reading the book like taking a holiday in a foreign land with an enthusiastic and expert guide. You will come back with good stories, and a new appreciation of the amazing diversity of life on Earth and the forces shaping it."--Suzanne Alonzo, Nature

"I understand much more about these creatures now that I've read this lively new book. . . . [L]ike all of the examples in this fine book, it's far from a traditional marriage."--Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History

"Such insights into the lives of animals are what makes Odd Couples so enjoyable, and Fairbairn always takes an evolutionist-eye view to try to understand them."--Kate Douglas, New Scientist

"When we discuss gender roles, we tend to think only of a narrow range of species conforming to our preconceptions about dominant men and domestic women. Fairbairn explodes these preconceptions. . . . [F]ascinating reading."--Danielle Clode, Australian

"The author has thought deeply about this topic and writes clearly about the many influences and consequences of sexual and natural selection and how they impinge upon reproductive fitness for different animal lineages. An utterly fascinating book that will change how you think about sexual differences."--GrrlScientist

"Recommended."--Library Journal

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