Michael J. Ryan

The brain has a long evolutionary history that biases how it assesses the entire world around it, not just the world of sex; and it functions within the framework of numerous neurobiological and computational constraints. I argue that instead of the brain having to evolve to detect beauty, the brain determines what is beautiful, and all of its constraints and contingencies give rise to a breathtaking diversity of sexual aesthetics throughout the animal kingdom.

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3 Responses to Michael J. Ryan

  1. shinichi says:

    A Taste for the Beautiful: The Evolution of Attraction

    by Michael J. Ryan

    From one of the world’s leading authorities on animal behavior, the astonishing story of how the female brain drives the evolution of beauty in animals and humans

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    Darwin developed the theory of sexual selection to explain why the animal world abounds in stunning beauty, from the brilliant colors of butterflies and fishes to the songs of birds and frogs. He argued that animals have “a taste for the beautiful” that drives their potential mates to evolve features that make them more sexually attractive and reproductively successful. But if Darwin explained why sexual beauty evolved in animals, he struggled to understand how. In A Taste for the Beautiful, Michael Ryan, one of the world’s leading authorities on animal behavior, tells the remarkable story of how he and other scientists have taken up where Darwin left off and transformed our understanding of sexual selection, shedding new light on human behavior in the process.

    Drawing on cutting-edge work in neuroscience and evolutionary biology, as well as his own important studies of the tiny Túngara frog deep in the jungles of Panama, Ryan explores the key questions: Why do animals perceive certain traits as beautiful and others not? Do animals have an inherent sexual aesthetic and, if so, where is it rooted? Ryan argues that the answers to these questions lie in the brain—particularly of females, who act as biological puppeteers, spurring the development of beautiful traits in males. This theory of how sexual beauty evolves explains its astonishing diversity and provides new insights about the degree to which our own perception of beauty resembles that of other animals.

    Vividly written and filled with fascinating stories, A Taste for the Beautiful will change how you think about beauty and attraction.

  2. shinichi says:

    Sexual beauty is everywhere, woven through the fabric of all sexually reproducing animals. We humans strive for beauty; we pay for it; we judge whether others have it; and if they do, we treat them better. Animals and humans both go to extreme lengths to appear beautiful to those who judge them. Peacocks evolve magnificent tails that cause peahens to sway, fishes sport bright colors that catch the eye of the other sex, crickets chirp endearingly to their mates, and spiders dance and vibrate their webs to show off. We humans take a more active role in engineering our beauty than do most other animals. Perfumes, fashion, cars, and music have all been employed in the service of sexual beauty, as have the surgeon’s knife and a pharmacopeia of drugs. But to enhance one’s beauty, either through the painstakingly slow process of evolution or the more immediate gratification of beauty-engineering, one must have some notion of what is beautiful.

  3. shinichi says:

    動物たちのセックスアピール 性的魅力の進化論

    by マイケル・J・ライアン

    translated by 東郷えりか

    異性の何に、なぜ魅力を感じるのか?性的な美は移り変わりやすい、偶然生じたものだった!?性選択の分野にパラダイムシフトを巻き起こした理論を動物行動学の第一人者が解き明かす!


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