Why beauty is genetically hardwired

Credit: Wikimedia

Charles Darwin’s second book, following upon On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, has received far less attention than its elder sibling. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex was, in large part, Darwin’s attempt to address a problem that had gnawed at him ever since the publication of Origin. He wrote, “The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!” The feather is unquestionably beautiful, but its evolution is nearly impossible to explain in terms of fitness and natural selection. Why is nature so filled with apparently useless beauty?

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Consider the bowerbird of Australia. The adult male builds a bower (which is an elaborate structure that’s not a nest and has no other use) to attract a female… Why do these birds go to so much trouble? Meticulous research has shown that artistic effort on the part of the male, and selective aesthetic preference on the part of the female, have coevolved in a self-reinforcing feedback process. In the male bowerbird, and many other creatures, the power to attract a mate has become inextricably tied to the activity of producing expressions of beauty that have no other practical value and are not signs of overall fitness. Beauty has become an end in itself.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Infographic: The evolutionary history of the COVID-19 coronavirus

Infographic: The evolutionary history of the COVID-19 coronavirus

Reuters analysed over 185,000 genome samples from the Global Initiative on Sharing All influenza Data (GISAID), the largest database of ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend