Yale ornithologist’s book named on New York Times’ ‘10 Best of 2017’

Photo of the cover of the book titled "The Evolution of Beauty."

The New York Times selected Richard O. Prum’s “The Evolution of Beauty” as one of the “10 Best Books of 2017.”

Prum joins James Forman Jr., professor of law, as one of two Yale faculty members represented on the list. Forman is the author of “Locking Up Our Own.”

Prum is the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and professor of forestry and environmental studies. He also serves as curator of ornithology and head curator of vertebrate zoology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. An evolutionary ornithologist with broad interests in avian biology, Prum has conducted field work throughout the Neotropics and in Madagascar, and has studied fossil theropods in China.

Subtitled “How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World — and Us,” Prum’s book explores Charles Darwin’s long-neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons is an independent engine of evolutionary change. In its citation, the Times stated that “if a science book can be subversive and feminist and change the way we look at our own bodies — but also be mostly about birds — this is it.”

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