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The ant and the peacock : altruism and sexual selection from Darwin to today

Author: Helena Cronin
Publisher: Cambridge ; New York : Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1991.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Cronin named her book after two organisms that gave Charles Darwin some difficult moments as he struggled with his theory of natural selection. The vast majority of ants are sterile workers, never reproducing, each always ready to engage in potential sacrifice of self for colony. How can natural selection, a theory based on self-preservation, explain the curious altruism of the ant? The peacock carries with it an
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Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Helena Cronin
ISBN: 052132937X 9780521329378 0521457653 9780521457651
OCLC Number: 23144516
Description: xiv, 490 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: Foreword / John Maynard Smith --
Darwinism, its Rivals and its Renegades --
Walking archives --
A world without Darwin --
1859 --
Rivals and follies: 1859 and beyond --
Goodbye to all that --
Darwinism old and new --
Anticipations of things past --
Organism to gene --
Structures to strategists --
Complexities and diversities --
Demarcations of design --
The scrapheap of chance --
'Strange deviations tied together' --
Artefacts of our minds --
The Peacock --
The sting in the peacock's tail --
Flying in the face of natural selection --
The career of a controversy --
Nothing but natural selection? --
'The advocate of pure Darwinism' --
Coloration for protection --
Coloration for recognition --
Explaining away display --
Coloration without selection --
Males for Darwin, females for Wallace? --
Wallace's legacy: A century of natural selection --
Can females shape males? --
Only humans can choose --
Not choosing, just looking --
'The instability of a vicious feminine caprice' --
The trouble with taste --
Do sensible females prefer sexy males? --
Good taste or good sense? --
Darwin's solution: Beauty for beauty's sake --
Wallace's solution: Not just a pretty tail --
Is 'good sense' sensible? --
Fisher's solution: Good taste makes good sense --
'Until careful experiments are made ... ' --
Ghosts of Darwinism surpassed --
The changing face of sexual selection --
A happy ending to the peacock's tale --
The Ant --
Altruism now --
The problem with altruism --
The problem solved --
'Altruism' reanalysed --
Altruism then.
Responsibility: Helena Cronin.
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Abstract:

This book explains two puzzles of the theory of natural selection, the altruism of the ant, and that concerning sexual selection, epitomized by the peacock's flamboyant and burdensome tail. Helena  Read more...

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'Part detective story and part philosophical enquiry, The Ant and the Peacock offers a paradox in every paragraph.' J. G. Ballard, Weekend Telegraph 'Nobody with an interest in how the human mind has Read more...

 
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    schema:reviewBody "Cronin named her book after two organisms that gave Charles Darwin some difficult moments as he struggled with his theory of natural selection. The vast majority of ants are sterile workers, never reproducing, each always ready to engage in potential sacrifice of self for colony. How can natural selection, a theory based on self-preservation, explain the curious altruism of the ant? The peacock carries with it an immense and gaudy tail, far more than would seem a necessity for survival. If anything, this ornamentation reduces survival potential, another problem for such a utilitarian theory as natural selection. Darwin developed evolutionary insights into both altruism and sexual ornamentation, and Cronin has skillfully traced Darwin's explanations from 1859 to the present. The book is divided into three parts: a historical introduction to Darwinism, a discussion of sexual selection, and a discussion of altruism and kin selection. The text is particularly strong in its use of historical context, including a liberal sprinkling of quotations. Complex ideas are well explained in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Richard Dawkins's style, and his influence on Cronin is felt throughout the book. Anyone seriously interested in Darwinism, sexual selection, and altruism should read this book. Strongly recommended. General; undergraduate; graduate. J.C. Kricher; Wheaton College (MA)--Choice Review." ;
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