Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Economist surveys evolution

Interesting survey in the Christmas Economist on human evolution, full of fascinating factoids such as that 1/200 men in the world today are descended from the prodigiously sexual Genghis Khan. Another nugget from an article on the evolution of intelligence:

sexual selection does provide a satisfying explanation for such otherwise perplexing activities as painting, carving, singing and dancing. On the surface, all of these things look like useless dissipations of energy. All, however, serve to demonstrate physical and mental prowess in ways that are easy to see and hard to fake—precisely the properties, in fact, that are characteristic of sexually selected features. Indeed, a little introspection may suggest to the reader that he or she has, from time to time, done some of these things to show off to a desirable sexual partner.

Of course, we all know who set evolution in train...

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