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Deep in tropical jungles around the world are birds with a dizzying array of appearances and mating displays—from pheasants with 3D feathers to moonwalking manakins—traits that seem disconnected from selection for individual survival. Culminating 30 years of fieldwork, Richard Prum, the Head Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and a world-renowned ornithologist, revives 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. Sharing from his latest work, The Evolution of Beauty, Prum presents a unique scientific vision for how nature’s splendor contributes to a more complete understanding of evolution and of ourselves in a conversation with evolutionary biologist Amy Parish.

Richard Prum

Richard O. Prum is William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology at Yale University, and Head Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. He has conducted field work throughout the world, and has studied fossil theropod dinosaurs in China. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2010.


Amy Parish

Amy Parish is a biological anthropologist, primatologist, and Darwinian feminist who has taught at University of Southern California in the gender studies, arts and letters,anthropology, and preventive medicine programs and departments since 1999. Dr. Parish has been studying the world’s captive population of bonobos for the last twenty years. In all of her research, Dr. Parish uses an evolutionary approach to shed light on the origins of human behavior. Her work has been featured in Ms. Magazine and she has appeared on Nova, National Geographic Explorer, NPR, and Discovery Health Channel productions.


Reservation Policy for Free Programs:
As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at approximately 7 PM.

Standby Policy:
Standby numbers are distributed in person only one hour before the program, on a first-come, first-served, basis. There is no advance wait list for full programs. Standby patrons will be admitted subject to availability. Most programs will be available via podcast.

Book Signing Policy:
ALOUD is one of many free programs at the Los Angeles Public Library made possible by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most ALOUD author programs are followed by book signings. At least one copy of the author’s book must be purchased from The Library Store in order to participate in any post-program book signing, and you will be asked to show proof of purchase. Please be prepared to show your proof of purchase when you enter the book signing line. Proceeds support the Los Angeles Public Library.

Main image:  In the bower… Credit: Doug Riley