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How We Do It

The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction by Robert Martin

11:26am, August 23, 2013

Many parents have questions about how to raise children “naturally.” When is the natural time to wean a baby? Is early toilet training natural? What about suggestions to eat the placenta?

Martin, a primatologist, looks to evolutionary history for clues to how humans have parented through time. He leads a dizzying tour through evolutionary aspects of human reproduction, starting with sperm and egg, winding through pregnancy and parental care, to reach the decidedly unnatural topics of contraception and in vitro fertilization.

The book is a gold mine of cocktail party trivia. Humans, for instance, have the fattest babies of all primates, and our disdain for dirty diapers is something of an evolutionary anomaly. Most mammals, including our closest relatives, deal with their infant’s waste by swallowing it.

Martin often touches on practical

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