Reviews & Previews

Animal sex lives exposed in 'Nature's Nether Regions'

4:00pm, June 28, 2014

Nature’s Nether Regions
Menno Schilthuizen
Viking, $28.95

If you want to enjoy eating lightly cooked calamari, skip down two paragraphs. And avoid page 20 of evolutionary biologist Schilthuizen’s charming and potentially mind-boggling new book on what he calls the “science of the genitals.”

An underappreciated quirk of squid genitals, he explains, provides a bit of truth behind the 2012 tabloid headline “Woman, 63, becomes pregnant in the mouth with baby squid after eating calamari.” Male squid encase gobs of sperm in membranes, sometimes covered with spikes, creating “spring-loaded sperm grenades,” as Schilthuizen puts it. Even after the squid dies, insufficiently cooked grenades can on occasion burst apart into cephalopod sperm shrapnel inside a diner’s mouth.

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