Read The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - And Us Online Free - 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.
|Title||:||The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - And Us|
|Number of Pages||:||400 pages|
June 07, 2017
Great until the last two chapters, then some slippage
This book is worth five stars for two starter reasons alone.
One is the sheer depth and breadth of Prum's speculative intelligence, especially in getting back to what he rightly postulates was Darwin's original stance on sexual selection.
June 01, 2017
Animal behavior, sexual evolution, and feminism. "This book has taken the concept of beauty from the humanities and applied it to the sciences by defining beauty as the result of a coevolutionary dance between desire and display." In the concluding chapter of his book, this sentence beautifully s...
June 06, 2017
Such an important book! For starters, it corrects about 150 years of reductive "survival of the fittest" thinking by evolutionary scientists and the public. This lopsided view flows from Charles Darwin's first book, On the Origin of Species, in 1859, and constitutes his first great idea.
November 06, 2017
I would never have predicted I'd find a book about theories of evolution written by an ornithologist to be interesting, but here we are. Prum has written a user-friendly scientific argument to bring back a second theory of Darwin's (one that runs parallel to his theory of natural selection) for s...
October 22, 2017
Very speculative in the second half, but still the most interesting thing I read this yer.
July 20, 2017
Feminist evolutionary psychology. Take all the time you need with that one.
The first half of the book is Prum talking about how neat he thinks birds are. It's roughly twice as boring as it sounds, but that's probably just because he didn't tell me anything new. Then, the second half of the book,...
September 08, 2017
My takeaway from this book - if you believe what most evolutionary biologists believe rather than Prum's flavor of mate selection you are a sexist eugenicist (basically a nazi) forcing a square peg into a round hole and, worst of all, an apostate opposed to Darwin himself! I often find this sort...
June 06, 2017
I finished this really well-written science book by Richard O. Prum, "The Evolution of Beauty". The book, obvious by the title, is about the evolution of beautiful (or costly) traits in organisms. Prum is a professor of ornithology at Yale University, and also head curator of vertebrate zoology a...
November 12, 2017
I vacillated between two and three stars. Two because the first half of the book is full of such arcane detail about birds’ mating habits that you keep asking yourself, “Why again was I reading this?”
He is challenging the wholesale buy-in to species differentiation being solely due to survival -...
September 21, 2017
Richard Prum, the Yale professor of ornithology who discovered the method by which we can now identify colors in dinosaur fossils, has written a convincing argument that evolutionary scientists have for a long time ignored Darwin’s theory that mate choice is a process comparable to the concept of...