How Charles Darwin got sexual selection wrong | Letters

The question is not whether we need a new theory of evolution or not (The long read, June 28); that’s why it took so long to bring in the old one in the 21st century. Anchor bias, the difficulty of eliminating the first thing we learn about a topic, makes it challenging for biologists to accept and evaluate experimental data that does not play by Darwin’s rules.

Natural selection had many fathers, including Darwin’s own grandfather, Erasmus. But sexual selection is exclusively Darwin’s, and is the theory that most need a second look. The failure to update the theory of sexual selection by including recent genetic breakthroughs and looking at the process through a female lens has left us with a severely flawed theory of human evolution.

The evolutionary moonlight that made it possible Homo sapiens To go where other species could not follow, it has its roots in a reproductive mutation – hidden ovulation and continuous sexual susceptibility – that dramatically increases the strategic agency used by females. But Darwin believed that “civilized” women were no longer intelligent enough to make informed choices. He could thus ignore the behavior of 51% of the population and underestimate the power of his own theory. Sexual selection is about much more than beauty – it establishes the origin of everything that defines human exceptionality.

Why does all this matter? Because people are facing an environmental disaster of our own making. Only by developing an accurate understanding of the factors that shaped human species-specific behavior will we be able to prevent the rapidly approaching climate apocalypse. Sexual selection may have shaped us, but our failure to take an unbiased look at ourselves can give natural selection the power to eliminate us.
Heather Remoff
Author, what has sex got to do with it? Darwin, love, lust and the anthropocene

Do you have an opinion on anything you read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication.

Related Posts