Book ID: CBB374533009

The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - and Us (2018)


Prum, Richard O. (Author)


Publication Date: 2018
Physical Details: 448
Language: English

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.

Reviewed By

Review Jan Verpooten (2020) Review of "The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - and Us". History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (p. 19). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Milam, Erika Lorraine
Larson, Barbara
Dagg, Joachim
Roberta Visone
Flach, Sabine
Weissman, Charlotte
Journal of the History of Biology
Laboratorio dell'ISPF
Philosophy & Theory in Biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
University of Chicago Press
Harvard University Press
Duke University Press
Dartmouth College Press
Ashgate Publishing
Sexual selection
Sexual behavior
Darwin, Charles Robert
Blackwell, Antoinette Louisa Brown
Dewey, John
Weismann, August
Wallace, Alfred Russel
Wagner, Moritz
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
21st century
20th century, late
20th century, early
United States
Amazon River Region (South America)
Great Britain

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