The Female Animal

Irene Elia, Author Henry Holt & Company $0 (318p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0702-2
Why were females chosen by evolution to be the more parenting sex in most species of insects, reptiles, birds and mammals? Among bees and wasps, notes Elia, intensified female care for the young correlates with greater mutual help within the colony. Proceeding from the courtship of fishes through crocodiles' cooperative parenting to the chimpanzee mother's fierce attachment to her children, the British author, a physical anthropologist, argues that natural selection rewarded the mothering instinct by giving nurturant individuals keener intelligence and greater control over their reproductive success. When she gets to the early hominid female, Elia adds a feminist twist. In her scenario, the female, aware that intercourse during her fertile period causes pregnancy, shared this secret with the male by deliberately prolonging her sexual receptivity. Women bought male protection through fidelity, but, in so doing, they became the chattel and property of men. Elia's graceful writing propels the reader through a surprising, technical tour of the animal kingdom. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Paperback - 978-0-8050-1183-8
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