Olivia Judson

evolutionary biologist and science writer

Olivia Judson (born 1970) is an evolutionary biologist and science writer.



All quotes from the UK trade paperback edition, published in 2002 by Vintage Books, ISBN 0-099-28375-1, 6th printing

  • The battle of the sexes is no myth. Success at sexual reproduction is at the heart of the evolutionary process. But greater success for her often means less success for him. The upshot? An eternal war—and an astounding diversity of strategies.
    • Part I, “Let Slip the Whores of War!” (p. 7)
  • As we shall see, when females mate with more than one male, War capers nimbly through the boudoirs, imps of discord frolicking in his wake.
    • Chapter 1, “A Sketch of the Battlefield” (p. 13)
  • Boys, I’m afraid the way to a woman’s bed is often through her stomach.
    • Chapter 3, “Fruits of Knowledge” (p. 42)
  • If a proclivity for promiscuity is genetic, then yes, promiscuous behavior will become more common if loose females tend to have more children than their monogamous peers. That’s how natural selection works.
    • Chapter 3, “Fruits of Knowledge” (p. 45)
  • Natural selection, it seems, often smiles on strumpets. Sorry, boys.
    • Chapter 3, “Fruits of Knowledge” (p. 59)
  • You’ve just got a case of SINBAD: Single Income, No Babe, Absolutely Desperate.
    • Chapter 4, “Swords or Pistols” (p. 65)
  • I’m afraid that females in many species often provoke males into fighting over them. When the mood strikes, they make themselves conspicuous—then stand back and watch the battle, before mating with the winner.
    • Chapter 4, “Swords or Pistols” (pp. 65-66)
  • Indeed, natural selection discriminates against well-behaved losers.
    • Chapter 7, “Crimes of Passion” (p. 117)
  • Evolution does not obey human notions of morality, nor is human morality a reflection of some natural law. The deadly sins would be different if they mirrored evolutionary no-no’s. Lust, for one, would be deemed a virtue; chastity would be deplored.
    • Chapter 7, “Crimes of Passion” (p. 120)
  • Sex is any process that mixes genes from different individuals.
    • Chapter 13, “Wholly Virgin” (p. 218)
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