2017-05-29. Challenging Mainstream Thought About Beauty’s Big Hand in Evolution.

posted Jun 3, 2017, 4:10 AM by Alan Gould
By James Gorman, The New York Times. For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 3. Excerpt: ...Richard O. Prum, a Yale ornithologist and evolutionary biologist, ... in a new book, “The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World — and Us...” ...writes about one kind of beauty — the oh-is-he/she-hot variety — and mostly as it concerns birds, not people. And his answer is, in short: That’s what female birds like. ...when they are choosing mates — and in birds it’s mostly the females who choose — animals make choices that can only be called aesthetic. They perceive a kind of beauty. Dr. Prum defines it as “co-evolved attraction.” They desire that beauty, often in the form of fancy feathers, and their desires change the course of evolution. ...Darwin famously proposed the idea of evolution by natural selection, what is often called survival of the fittest. To put it simply, living things vary in their inherited traits, from speed to color to sense of smell. The traits of the individuals who survive longer and have the most offspring become more common. So, over time, the faster antelope have more young, the fastest of them have more offspring, and antelope end up very speedy. ...But reproduction isn’t just about surviving and staying healthy long enough to mate. You have to find a mate. And in many species, your mate must choose you. This process is sexual selection. Female birds are often the ones choosing. And their choices can produce male birds that are incredibly colorful, .... If, for example, females like males with long tails, then long-tailed males have more offspring, and the longest-tailed of those offspring reproduce more. In the end, that species becomes known for its long tails. ...survival might not have anything to do with it....  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/29/science/evolution-of-beauty-richard-prum-darwin-sexual-selection.html