By Peter T. Ellison
Replica is without doubt one of the most elementary of human organic capabilities, either for our far away ancestors and for ourselves, even if we are living at the plains of Africa or in North American suburbs. Our reproductive biology unites us as a species, however it has additionally been a massive engine of our evolution. within the means bodies functionality this day we will be able to see either the imprint of our formative previous and implications for our destiny. it's the infinitely sophisticated and forever dramatic tale of human copy and its evolutionary context that Peter T. Ellison tells in On Fertile flooring. starting from the newest achievements of contemporary fertility clinics to the lives of subsistence farmers within the rain forests of Africa, this publication deals either a remarkably large and a minutely specified exploration of human copy. Ellison, a number one pioneer within the box, combines the views of anthropology, stressing the variety and edition of human adventure; ecology, delicate to the two-way interactions among people and their environments; and evolutionary biology, emphasizing a useful figuring out of human reproductive biology and its position in our evolutionary heritage. even if contrasting lady athletes lacking their classes and male athletes utilizing anabolic steroids with Polish farm ladies and hunter-gatherers in Paraguay, or exploring the complicated choreography of an implanting embryo or of a nursing mom and her baby, On Fertile flooring advances a wealthy and deeply fulfilling rationalization of the mechanisms during which we reproduce and the evolutionary forces at the back of their layout. (20010315)
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Additional info for On Fertile Ground: A Natural History of Human Reproduction
Some alternatives are conceivable, if hypothetical. Follicles and the eggs they contain could mature at intervals more closely spaced than a month, so that newly ovulated eggs appeared every few days. Male sperm maturation is an extreme version of such overlapping gamete maturation, with new mature sperm produced in prodigious quantities nearly continuously. Without going to that extreme, females of other species manage to have overlapping waves of follicular maturation, so that a new crop of oocytes is maturing toward ovulation even while the previous cohort is on its way down the fallopian tubes toward the uterus and possible fertilization.
Given that you’re going to have to wait two weeks for another egg, Strassmann argues, there’s no point in maintaining the endometrium. A rephrase of the terminal differentiation argument might state the case differently: given that you’re going to have to wait two weeks for another endometrium, there’s no point in producing another egg. It’s difﬁcult to know which of these two constraints is the operant one in humans. But a sideways glance at other primates may provide a clue.
This scenario captures important features of human endometrial development, but itself begs for explanation. Why must the endometrial “ship” be launched so early in some species and not in others? And even if it can’t be reused, wouldn’t it be more efﬁcient to resorb the material of the failed endometrium? The most powerful attempt to address all these issues was made by Beverly Strassmann, who also provided the most thorough critique of Profet’s hypothesis. Strassmann suggests that the reason menstruation occurs is simply that other alternatives are too costly in metabolic terms.