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The Evolution of Beauty, May 10

PHILADELPHIA, April 6, 2017

Charles Darwin called it “the taste for the beautiful”—how some animals choose mates based on their eye-catching ornaments, such as wildly colorful feathers on birds.


Yale ornithologist and MacArthur Fellow Richard Prum recently wrote a book on the phenomenon, reimagining how evolution works in creating the extraordinary range of ornament in the animal kingdom. On Wednesday, May 10, Prum will give a free illustrated presentation at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University on the subject.


The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World — And Us” begins at 6:30 p.m. Afterward, Prum will sign copies of his new book of the same name. To register, visit the Academy’s website


An ornithology professor and head curator of vertebrate zoology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Prum has conducted field work throughout the world, including theropod dinosaurs in China. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2010.


In The Evolution of Beauty, Prum dusts off 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. The book presents a unique scientific vision for how nature’s splendor contributes to a more complete understanding of evolution and of ourselves.


This talk is part of the Academy’s annual Cheryl Beth Silverman Memorial Lecture.



An image of Richard Prum is available in the Academy Press Room.

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