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      Misconceptions about Conception and Other Fallacies: Historical Bias in Reproductive Biology

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      Integrative and Comparative Biology

      Oxford University Press (OUP)

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          Abstract

          Natural selection (differential reproduction) is a major tenet of evolutionary theory. In mammals the success of reproduction is primarily controlled by females who provide the majority of offspring care via gestation and lactation. In some species, maternal care also extends post-weaning. This primacy of female reproduction in evolution has not quite crept into our understanding of organismal adaptations in anatomy, physiology, and behavior. This cultural legacy has left its mark and led to misconceptions in our understanding of reproductive biology that are especially prominent in the understanding of reproduction in the general public. Here, I give examples of such misconceptions. I focus on aspects of physiology (the “sperm race,” the “estrous cycle,” the “28-day” menstrual cycle, “sex” hormones, and meiosis) as well as aspects of terminology in morphology and behavior. The issues I raise are not new, but all remain embedded in the teaching of reproductive biology especially at the introductory level. For each issue, I examine the historical bias, the consequences of that bias, and, more importantly, ways to ameliorate that bias going forward.

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          Most cited references 48

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          The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles

           Emily Martin (1991)
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            Sexual attractivity, proceptivity, and receptivity in female mammals.

             E F Beach (1976)
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              Minireview: Functions of the cumulus oophorus during oocyte maturation, ovulation, and fertilization.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Integrative and Comparative Biology
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                1540-7063
                1557-7023
                September 2020
                September 01 2020
                May 12 2020
                September 2020
                September 01 2020
                May 12 2020
                : 60
                : 3
                : 683-691
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Biology, Smith College, 44 College Lane, Northampton, MA 01063, USA
                Article
                10.1093/icb/icaa035
                © 2020

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