Book Review No. 39 - The Evolution of Beauty by Richard O. Prum
On the road again, we are on the road again! In my head, I am singing that to myself. This week, we are spending time in Akron, Ohio. While the hubby works, I am taking full advantage of our suite at Holiday Inn Express. The weather is glorious gloomy NE Ohio weather, so I'm also enjoying that. My husband isn't such a fan of the gloom, but I actually miss it now that we live in Central KY.
I finished this really well-written science book by Richard O. Prum, "The Evolution of Beauty". The book, obvious by the title, is about the evolution of beautiful (or costly) traits in organisms. Prum is a professor of ornithology at Yale University, and also head curator of vertebrate zoology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. So, this man knows what he is talking about.
A lot of the examples provided by Prum are of birds, which make sense since he is an ornithologist. I have a strong background in evolution, although primarily human evolution, and I appreciated how Prum doesn't just jump into using a lot of scientific jargon. This book is very approachable for people that don't possess a lot of biology background. You don't have to have a degree to understand Prum and his approach to explaining evolution.
Prum provides a exceptional argument for mate selection based on choice driving evolution. This is not a new concept; however Prum argues that this concept gets put aside or downplayed over natural selection being the primary driving force of evolutionary change. For example, Prum argues that a lot of the bright plumage and ornamentation in birds exist because of generations of mate choice (mostly female mate choice) picked these costly traits. Now the concept is way more complicated than that, and as with everything in nature there are many exceptions to the rule. Prum does a much better job at explaining than I do.
This really is an interesting read if you have an inclination towards biological sciences and evolution. Also, if you just like birds you may find it a good resource. This book may not be something you just sit down and read in one sitting, but I read through it at a steady pace and took time to absorb what Prum was saying.
Now I'm off to go enjoy the hotel. Maybe take a quick cat nap, just relax. I'll give another update later about my ongoing health odyssey and how its influence my life right now.