How Beauty Is Making Scientists Rethink Evolution

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The extravagant splendor of the animal kingdom can’t be explained by natural selection alone — so how did it come to be?

  • Ferris Jabr
  • The New York Times Magazine

A male flame bowerbird is a creature of incandescent beauty.

The hue of his plumage transitions seamlessly from molten red to sunshine yellow.

But that radiance is not enough to attract a mate.

When males of most bowerbird species are ready to begin courting, they set about building the structure for which they are named: an assemblage of twigs shaped into a spire, corridor or hut.

They decorate their bowers with scores of…

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