I’ve been watching ducks recently. Mallard ducks show the remarkable difference beteen the fairly drab female and the quite glamorous male. Is this just another case of an unfair asymmetry in nature?
Maybe not. An opposing proposal is that what we are seeing is the effect of female avian aesthetics. Females are generally those who select the partner in a pair. What we see is the effect of their taste, shared to some extent by females of at least one other species. Namely, human beings.
Another interesting fact is that female aesthetic preference does not always pick out the fitter male bird, fitter, that is, in birdly things like flight. In fact, it very much looks as though the song of one species is improved by wing configurations that, when increased, create a bird less capable of good flying.
Yale Professor Richard O. Prum argues, as it is put, that sexual…
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