The jargon problem we talked about in my review of the last book? Yeah, it’s in evidence here. I feel bad, because Schilthuizen very obviously tries hard to avoid it, naming the nether regions in question as closely as he can to their human equivalent, but I got lost in all the pedipalps and ovipositors and couldn’t make heads or tails of much of the book (the difference between heads and tails being kind of important when talking about sexual reproduction).
This was dry (again, not conducive to a book on copulation…. buckle up folks, there’s gonna be a lot of innuendo in this review, I guess) and often difficult to follow, particularly the insect reproduction section, although it was fairly interesting to learn that similar species often are drastically different, and even distinguishable BY their… appendages.
Honestly, the most surprising thing about the subject matter is how limited the field is. There’s a lot of attention to one particular species of slug, because it’s the only slug that’s been studied. Human reproduction and copulation are referenced here with studies that have sample sizes of one, often presumably the researcher and/or their spouse. I knew that ducks have corkscrew members, but only just learned that it was recently that the reason why was discovered – so that female ducks can choose to accommodate them by relaxing only, preventing the male from forcing himself on the female. (well, maybe. Ducks are known to be predatory maters in the wild).
The second half goes much easier than the first, in part because insect copulation is too different to really understand without in depth (heh) study, and even the genderless slug mating is closer to something understandable, but this just wasn’t for me. Not bad, but not keeping it.