“If a science book can be subversive and feminist and change the way we look at our own bodies — but also be mostly about birds — this is it. Prum, an ornithologist, mounts a defense of Darwin’s second, largely overlooked theory of sexual selection.”
Featured in New York Times’ Best 10 Books of 2017.
“Richard Prum seems to argue against the idea that all structures evolve for a reason; instead, he asserts, beauty in nature evolves merely to please a female’s arbitrary tastes.”
Featured in Smithsonian’s Best Science Books of 2017.
The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World — and Us has been named a Best Book Of The Year By The New York Times Book Review, Smithsonian and Wall Street Journal.
This masterpiece of writing has been brought to life by Richard O. Prum, a Yale University ornithologist.
This work in The Evolution of Beauty presents his unique scientific vision of how nature’s splendor contributes to a more complete understanding of evolution and of ourselves as human beings.
He takes apart Darwin’s conclusion that natural selection explains every branch on the tree of life, from which species thrive to which wither away to extinction and evolution of each’s features. This notable scientist research and findings have left the scientific community wondering if natural selection really account for everything we see in nature.
Richard Prum does not think so.
He focused his work on the sexual behaviors of animals and, with thirty years of fieldwork to back him, Prum has highlighted numerous display traits that disconnected from the theory of natural selection for individual survival.
To explain his findings to readers, he revisits Darwin’s long-neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons is an independent engine of evolutionary change. In other words, some animal engages in sexual behavior for the mere pleasure of it.
Mate selection drives the traits for adaptive evolution, allowing them to grow ever more elaborate. It also impacts sexual conflict, in which the sexual autonomy of the female evolves in response to male sexual control.
This work has significant impact on the theories of the evolution of human sexuality, particularly the ways in which female preferences have changed male bodies and the very definition of masculinity through evolutionary time.