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Headless Males Make Great Lovers: And Other Unusual Natural Histories

Headless Males Make Great Lovers: And Other Unusual Natural Histories

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3.88

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Published by University of Chicago Press an imprint of UChicagoPress
The natural world is filled with diverse—not to mention quirky and odd—animal behaviors. Consider the male praying mantis that continues to mate after being beheaded; the spiders, insects, and birds that offer gifts of food in return for sex; the male hip-pocket frog that carries his own tadpoles; the baby spiders that dine on their mother; the beetle that craves excrement; or the starfish that sheds an arm or two to escape a predator's grasp.

Headless Males Make Great Lovers and Other Unusual Natural Histories celebrates the extraordinary world of animals with essays on curious creatures and their amazing behaviors. In five thematic chapters, Marty Crump—a tropical field biologist well known for her work with the reproductive behavior of amphibians—examines the bizarre conduct of animals as they mate, parent, feed, defend themselves, and communicate. Crump's enthusiasm for the unusual behaviors she describes-from sex change and free love in sponges to aphrodisiac concoctions in bats-is visible on every page, thanks to her skilled storytelling, which makes even sea slugs, dung beetles, ticks, and tapeworms fascinating and appealing. Steeped in biology, Headless Males Make Great Lovers points out that diverse and unrelated animals often share seemingly bizarre behaviors—evidence, Crump argues, that these natural histories, though outwardly weird, are successful ways of living.

Illustrated throughout, and filled with vignettes of personal and scientific interest, Headless Males Make Great Lovers will enchant the general reader with its tales of blood-squirting horned lizards and intestine-ejecting sea cucumbers—all in the service of a greater appreciation of the diversity of the natural histories of animals.
The natural world is filled with diverse—not to mention quirky and odd—animal behaviors. Consider the male praying mantis that continues to mate after being beheaded; the spiders, insects, and birds that offer gifts of food in return for sex; the male hip-pocket frog that carries his own tadpoles; the baby spiders that dine on their mother; the beetle that craves excrement; or the starfish that sheds an arm or two to escape a predator's grasp.

Headless Males Make Great Lovers and Other Unusual Natural Histories celebrates the extraordinary world of animals with essays on curious creatures and their amazing behaviors. In five thematic chapters, Marty Crump—a tropical field biologist well known for her work with the reproductive behavior of amphibians—examines the bizarre conduct of animals as they mate, parent, feed, defend themselves, and communicate. Crump's enthusiasm for the unusual behaviors she describes-from sex change and free love in sponges to aphrodisiac concoctions in bats-is visible on every page, thanks to her skilled storytelling, which makes even sea slugs, dung beetles, ticks, and tapeworms fascinating and appealing. Steeped in biology, Headless Males Make Great Lovers points out that diverse and unrelated animals often share seemingly bizarre behaviors—evidence, Crump argues, that these natural histories, though outwardly weird, are successful ways of living.

Illustrated throughout, and filled with vignettes of personal and scientific interest, Headless Males Make Great Lovers will enchant the general reader with its tales of blood-squirting horned lizards and intestine-ejecting sea cucumbers—all in the service of a greater appreciation of the diversity of the natural histories of animals.

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Publish date: Nov 15, 2008
Added to Scribd: Nov 19, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9780226122083
List Price: $14.00

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12/20/2014

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9780226122083

$14.00

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satyridae reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Fun, accessible recounting of dozens of fascinating facts about animals. Covers some of the behaviours we think odd or creepy, and some that are more traditionally fascinating. Veers into cuteness, but only rarely. Though it's not deep, it's very wide, and full of lots of interesting anecdotes.
fyrefly98 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Summary: In Headless Males Make Great Lovers, Marty Crump sets out to give her readers a peek into the crazy world of natural history - that is, the study of how animals live their lives. She breaks it down into five broad categories: mating behavior, parental behavior, predation, protection, and communication, and covers such examples as male salamanders using fang-like protrusions on their jaw to directly inject pheromones into the female to make her receptive to mating; frogs that store their eggs in their vocal sacs and then belch up their tadpoles once they've hatched; and deep-sea anglerfish where a male will bite on to a much larger female, and hang on until she's ready to lay her eggs... which may take months.Review: I've been a sucker for natural history factoids ever since my parents first got me my first subscription to Zoobooks; the stuff that some animal species do in the daily course of living is so crazy, so bizzare, and so completely foreign to our own experience that it tops the strangest things a sci-fi novelist could hope to dream up. So, despite the fact that I already knew about a lot of what Crump was writing about (and in fact was spotting places where I thought she missed an opportunity to introduce some neat relevant trivia tidbits), this book was still like candy to me. And personally, one of the best parts was that Crump actually presented some examples that I hadn't heard of, and I learned some things I didn't know before - like the fact that baby kangaroos spend their first four months continuously attached to a nipple in their mom's pouch, or that rattlesnakes can shed and re-grow their fangs, or that dung beetles in India bury 50,000 tons of human waste per day! So cool!While this book is definitely aimed at people who agree with me that that sort of thing is cool, not gross (well, okay, kind of gross), it's not geared exclusively towards scientists. Crump is very good at keeping her science accessible to the layperson without talking down to her readers or sacrificing accuracy, and the prose is bright and clean and easy to read. I realize it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I think the fact that I had a fun time reading it, even when I already knew about the salamanders or the fish or whatever, speaks pretty highly in its favor. 4 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: Not exclusive to scientists, I think this would be fun for anyone with more than a passing interest in natural history: zoo- and museum-goers, Discovery Channel watchers, National Geographic subscribers, etc.
criener reviewed this
What animal has the most bizarre behavior? Many readers could think of a friend or two and say “human” without much hesitation. But they haven’t read Headless Males Make Great Lovers, an odd little reference book of fascinating animal behaviors. Like most behavioral biologists, author Marty Crump focuses on the four F’s: Feeding, fighting, fleeing and mating. Rather than leading us through the introductory textbook of principles and representative examples, however, Crump describes the most interesting and bizarre animal behaviors she can imagine. This is what makes this book paradoxically both fascinating and a bit monotonous. It is like being at a cocktail party with someone who is a font of little factoids. Each fact in itself a fascinating tidbit, but in large quantities they are somehow less than the sum of their parts. Did you know that male bowerbirds build striking blue monuments to their future partners? Clownfish (yes, like Nemo in Finding Nemo) are sequential hermaphrodites. That means little Nemo could turn into little Nema. Octopuses are the chameleons of the sea, some changing color 3 times a minute on average. Each vignette is concise and packed with the most bizarre facts of the animal kingdom, but there is little thematic flesh to connect each story to one another. Despite this fact, Headless Males is a fun read. Filled with quotes from poetry and literature and nifty little sketches of the animals being described, this book is guaranteed to make you smile, teach you something new about the animal kingdom, and give you a little fodder for the next time the conversation runs dry at the annual office holiday party. Did you know that starfish self-amputate when seized by a predator?
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