The Dawn of the Deed

The Dawn of the Deed

The Prehistoric Origins of Sex

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:
We all know about the birds and the bees, but what about the ancient placoderm fishes and the dinosaurs? The history of sex is as old as life itself--and as complicated and mysterious. And despite centuries of study there is always more to know. In 2008, paleontologist John A. Long and a team of researchers revealed their discovery of a placoderm fish fossil, known as "the mother fish," which at 380 million years old revealed the oldest vertebrate embryo--the earliest known example of internal fertilization. As Long explains, this find led to the reexamination of countless fish fossils and the discovery of previously undetected embryos. As a result, placoderms are now considered to be the first species to have had intimate sexual reproduction or sex as we know it--sort of. Inspired by this incredible find, Long began a quest to uncover the paleontological and evolutionary history of copulation and insemination. In The Dawn of the Deed, he takes readers on an entertaining and lively tour through the sex lives of ancient fish and exposes the unusual mating habits of arthropods, tortoises, and even a well-endowed (16.5 inches!) Argentine Duck. Long discusses these significant discoveries alongside what we know about reproductive biology and evolutionary theory, using the fossil record to provide a provocative account of prehistoric sex. The Dawn of the Deed also explores fascinating revelations about animal reproduction, from homosexual penguins to monogamous seahorses to the difficulties of dinosaur romance and how sexual organs in ancient shark-like fishes actually relate to our own sexual anatomy. The Dawn of the Deed is Long's own story of what it's like to be a part of a discovery that rewrites evolutionary history as well as an absolutely rollicking guide to sex throughout the ages in the animal kingdom. It's natural history with a naughty wink.
Publisher: Chicago ; London : University of Chicago Press, 2012, ©2012.
ISBN: 9780226492544
Call Number: 573.6374 LONG
Characteristics: 278 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 23 cm
Subjects: Sex (Biology)
Generative organs -- Evolution.
Sexual behavior in animals.
Sexual instinct.
Sexual selection in animals.
Evolution (Biology)


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Dec 16, 2013

How we got here is an interesting question to ask. Most of this book focuses on the discoveries of the author and how they affect the academic knowledge of procreation. Over half the book focuses on the fish, and it was intriguing to learn how long it can take to actually get to analyzing a specimen after it has been collected from the field, and how new knowledge will take you back to old findings in order to reinterpret them. There are a few chapters later on the in book that moves quickly through the evolution of sexuality and the associated organs. A bit dry in places, but glad I read it.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at GCPL

To Top