The Evolution of Beauty

The Evolution of Beauty

How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World-- and Us

Book - 2017
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"A major reimagining of how evolutionary forces work, revealing how mating preferences--what Darwin termed "the taste for the beautiful"--Create the extraordinary range of ornament in the animal world. In the great halls of science, dogma holds that Darwin's theory of natural selection explains every branch on the tree of life: which species thrive, which wither away to extinction, and what features each evolves. But can adaptation by natural selection really account for everything we see in nature? Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum--reviving Darwin's own views--thinks not. Deep in tropical jungles around the world are birds with a dizzying array of appearances and mating displays: Club-winged Manakins who sing with their wings, Great Argus Pheasants who dazzle prospective mates with a four-foot-wide cone of feathers covered in golden 3D spheres, Red-capped Manakins who moonwalk. In thirty years of fieldwork, Prum has seen numerous display traits that seem disconnected from, if not outright contrary to, selection for individual survival. To explain this, he dusts off Darwin's long-neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons--for the mere pleasure of it--is an independent engine of evolutionary change. Mate choice can drive ornamental traits from the constraints of adaptive evolution, allowing them to grow ever more elaborate. It also sets the stakes for sexual conflict, in which the sexual autonomy of the female evolves in response to male sexual control. Most crucially, this framework provides important insights into the evolution of human sexuality, particularly the ways in which female preferences have changed male bodies, and even maleness itself, through evolutionary time. The Evolution of Beauty presents a unique scientific vision for how nature's splendor contributes to a more complete understanding of evolution and of ourselves."--Publisher's website.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385537216
0385537212
9780385537223
0385537220
9780385537223
Branch Call Number: 591.562 Pru
Characteristics: 428 pages : illustrations (some color), map ; 25 cm

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This book is informative and thorough with well-substantiated info regarding the concept of "beauty happens." While the scientific chapters are challenging, the reader is rewarded with exciting chapters on birds and humans. The book could be edited to reduce some of the details but the reader can just skim of the tough sections. Finally, I found answers to some of my questions including why humans don't have tails. I won't give away the surprise ... you'll just have to read to get your own answers.

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