Richard Prum
Amy Parish
May 16, 2017

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.

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