The 7 Sexes

The 7 Sexes

Biology of Sex Determination
Elof Axel Carlson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/12/2013
Format: Hardback 27 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00645-5
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Few of us know much about the biology of sex determination, but what could be more interesting than to discover how we are shaped into males and females? In this book, Elof Carlson tells the incredible story of the difficult quest to understand how the body forms girls and boys. Carlson’s history takes us from antiquity to the present day to detail how each component of human reproduction and sexuality was identified and studied, how this knowledge enlarged our understanding of sex determination, and how it was employed to interpret such little understood aspects of human biology as the origin of intersex births.

Author Bio

Elof Carlson is Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus at Stony Brook University. A geneticist and historian of science, he is author of The Gene: A Critical History; Genes, Radiation, and Society: The Life and Work of H. J. Muller; The Unfit: A History of a Bad Idea; Mendel’s Legacy: The Origin of Classical Genetics; Times of Triumph, Times of Doubt: Science and the Battle for Public Trust; and Neither Gods Nor Beasts: How Science Is Changing Who We Think We Are.


“Carlson reveals the various scientific advances, in both methods and understanding, that allowed researchers to identify anatomical structures, gametes, sex hormones, sex chromosomes, and ultimately, a firm comprehension of the genetics of sex. . . . This scientific story of discovery is quite fascinating.”
 — Barbara Baumgartner, Washington University, St. Louis

“Carlson does an excellent job presenting the researchers who, over time, worked out the details of sex determination and differentiation. Highly informative and instructive.”
 — Johan Verhulst, MD, Kinsey Institute

“In an amazing and difficult quest to understand how we are shaped into males and females, Carlson’s history spans through time, detailing how each component of human reproduction and sexuality has been identified and studied to expand our understanding of sex determination.”

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Table of Contents

List of Tables
List of Figures
1. Introduction
2. Wild Guesses in an Era of Scientific Ignorance
3. The Ancient World
4. Monotheistic Religious Interpretations
5. The Descriptive Embryology of Male and Female Development
6. The Discovery of the Egg in Higher Eukaryotes
7. The Discovery of the Sperm in Higher Eukaryotes
8. The Discovery of Sex Hormones
9. Ploidy Levels and Sex Determination
10. The Discovery of Sex Chromosomes
11. The Balance Theory of Sex Determination
12. The Discovery of Sex in Microorganisms
13. The History and Interpretations of Hermaphrodites and Intersexes
14. Dosage Compensation and the Sex Chromosomes
15. The Discovery of Human Sex Chromosome Conditions
16. The Role of Sex Determining Genes
17. The Seven Sexes of Humans
18. The History of Homosexuality
19. The History of Behavioral Gender Assignment
20. The Evolution of Sex Determination
21. What Does It Mean to Have an Assigned Sex?
22. The Quest for a Unified Theory of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality
Appendix: Secondary Literature and the Relation of Biology to Sex and Gender

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