Sexual Selection Triumphant

Within a few years, sexual selection became the hottest area of evolutionary biology and animal behavior research. Before this revival, sexual selection was caught in a double bind. Nobody did experiments on mate choice because theorists doubted its existence. And nobody did theoretical work on sexual selection because there was no experimental evidence for mate choice. Once this vicious circle was broken by John Maynard Smith, George Williams, Amotz Zahavi, Robert Trivers, and other pioneers, Darwin's favorite idea was free to succeed.

Sexual selection's revival has been swift, dramatic, and unique. It may be the only major scientific theory to have become accepted after a century of condemnation, neglect, and misinterpretation. Throughout the 1990s, sexual selection research became one of the most successful and exciting areas of biology, dominating the leading evolution journals and animal behavior conferences. Helena Cronin's The Ant and the Peacock put sexual selection in its historical context, reminding biologists where it came from and where it might go, Malte Andersson's 1994 textbook Sexual Selection reviewed the state of the art for a new generation of scientists. Sexual selection became the most fruitful idea in the emerging science of evolutionary psychology. After a hundred years of neglect, The Descent ofMan was once more being read—and not just for what it has to say on human evolution.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment