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The evolution of beauty : how Darwin's forgotten theory of mate choice shapes the animal world-- and us

Author: Richard O Prum
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2017]
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : First editionView all editions and formats
Summary:
What can explain the incredible diversity of beauty in nature? Richard O. Prum, an award-winning ornithologist, discusses Charles Darwin's second and long-neglected theory--aesthetic mate choice--and what it means for our understanding of evolution. In addition, Prum connects those same evolutionary dynamics to the origins and diversity of human sexuality, offering riveting new thinking about the evolution of human
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Details

Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Prum, Richard O.
Evolution of beauty.
New York : Doubleday, 2017
(DLC) 2016059440
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Richard O Prum
ISBN: 9780385537216 0385537212 0385537220 9780385537223
OCLC Number: 967133880
Description: 428 pages : illustrations (some color), map ; 25 cm
Contents: Introduction --
Darwin's really dangerous idea --
Beauty happens --
Manakin dances --
Aesthetic innovation and decadence --
Make way for duck sex --
Beauty from the beast --
Bromance before romance --
Human beauty happens too --
Pleasure happens --
The Lysistrata effect --
The queering of Homo sapiens --
This aesthetic view of life.
Responsibility: Richard O. Prum.

Abstract:

What can explain the incredible diversity of beauty in nature? Richard O. Prum, an award-winning ornithologist, discusses Charles Darwin's second and long-neglected theory--aesthetic mate choice--and what it means for our understanding of evolution. In addition, Prum connects those same evolutionary dynamics to the origins and diversity of human sexuality, offering riveting new thinking about the evolution of human beauty and the role of mate choice, thereby transforming our ancestors from typical infanticidal primates into socially intelligent, pair-bonding caregivers. Prum's book is an exhilarating tour de force that begins in the trees and ends by fundamentally challenging how we understand human evolution and ourselves. --

"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.

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