Gender Variation In Animals, and Evolution’s Rainbow

If the book Biological Exuberance is about gay animals, then Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People is about the full lesbian, gay, bi, transexual, and intersex spectrum.

Joan Roughgarden is an evolutionary biologist at Stanford University, and speaking from her personal experience as a transsexual, she analyzes the staggering variety we see in the animal kingdom. Sometimes too dense for the casual reader, it is nonetheless a fascinating and important book. She’s particularly insightful on the rainbow of gender variations both in animals and humans, proposing myriad new and provocative perspectives.

I love finding out how mind-bending the natural world is. God or Mother Nature or whoever is in charge certainly has a sense of humor and a profound devotion to diversity, and this book is an amazing job of trying to explain how it all works and why.

Biological Exuberance: An Encyclopedia Of Gay Animals

The best overview on gay animals is from the NY Times Magazine, Can Animals Be Gay?, but the definitive work is Bruce Bagemihl’s Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. With over 700 pages of detailed information, including sketches and photographs, he provides tons of detailed information. It is hard to express what a comprehensive and entertaining work this is, while staying scientifically rigorous. Plus the portrait on the cover is amazing.

Just for fun, here is the brilliant Ricky Gervais mocking Biological Exuberance. Funny stuff, but his comment at the end about the book’s sketches is unfair, as there are plenty of photos too.