Season 5 Episode 6: Gender Bender

In this final episode of Season 5, Sarah, Mark, and James discuss the last chapters from Lucy Cooke's book Bitch: On the female of the species. Sarah described the sex lives of barnacles and encouraged us to watch the Green Porno episode that illustrates the impressive size of a barnacle penis. 

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The conversation considered why Charles Darwin did not include barnacles in his Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. Sarah suggested it would not fit nicely in his narrative on male and female roles in sexual selection. We then discussed how clown fish, which can shift their sexual identity from male to female, challenge the notions of sexual identity. 

Photo: Amanda Cotton/Coral Reef Image Bank

Mark recounted Lucy Cooke's biologically accurate retelling of Finding Nemo which results in a story that would not get a G rating.  James questions if the term Gender is only relevant to humans, since we seem consumed with identity, and in the animal world, gender is meaningless as are terms like masculine and feminine. We then speculated how a modern Charles Darwin would integrate these diverse views of sexual identity and sexual strategies into a more inclusive theory of sexual selection.

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