anatomy and physiology departments interested in producinginspired doctors?R. M. KIRKSex Determination, Differentiation and IntersexualityinPlacentalMammals.ByR. H. F.HUNTER. (Pp.xxi+310;illustrated;50/$79.95hardback;ISBN
0 521 46218 5.) Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress. 1995.This elegant and informative book is devoted to sexdifferences and the process of differentiation in the gonads,the reproductive tract and the genitalia. It tells its storythrough 10 chapters, the first of which is devoted tohistorical landmarks. Historical reviews seem de rigueur inany book on sex and reproduction I doubt they occur soregularly in major texts on the skin, kidneys or salivaryglands-but this one is relatively succinct. It does, however,contain one of the few genuine oddities of the book, a two-page table devoted to famous reproductive biologistsassociated with Edinburgh University. The word'associated' is apt, for the list certainly includes some whoseprominence was achieved elsewhere and some who (I amtold) were not always favourably disposed to their almamater; a future edition woulIG benefit from a little less 'AuldReekie'.Chapter 2, on Mechanisms of Sex Determination, isconcerned exclusively with genes and their actions. TheinactiveX(Lyonhypothesis), sex-determininggenesandH-Y antigen receive full consideration, with an interestingaside on the links between ideas on sex reversal and thetestis-determining geneon theYchromosome. Acceleratedgrowth in male embryos as a genetic (pregonadal) phenomenonis also explored; one wonders what the situation is formammals in which the female is bigger the golden hamsteris a ready example.Chapter 3 deals with differentiation of the gonads andreviews the origin, migration and multiplication of primordialgerm cells before dealing with the formation anddifferentiation of the testis and ovary. These are all themeswhere the gaps in our knowledge are wide and Hunterhandles these well, though there is little on gonadalhistogenesis and its stages. Descent of the gonad alsoreceives a rather short consideration which, given therelativefrequencyofmaldescentofthe testisand thelackofconsensus over mechanisms (androgens and 'descendin' arecommented on, GAGs and CGRP are not), is perhaps apity.