Challenging Darwin’s Theory of Sexual Selection
Brief summary on article:
1. The Problem
3. Importance in the Life Sciences
Joan Roughgarden, previously known as Jonathan Roughgarden, eloquently put it as “If you’re going to take on Darwin- you better have a thick skin”. In Challenging Darwin’s Theory of Sexual Selection, Roughgarden, boldly proposes a theory that contradicts Darwin’s revolutionary theory of sexual selection. Roughgarden, a theoretical ecologist at Stanford University, underwent a sex change at the age of 52 and successfully changed her sexual organs to those of a woman, giving critics the opportunity to use this experience as an excuse for her sudden bias. The controversial biologist now tells her story of a world where diversity is underplayed and often overlooked, refuting Darwin’s proposition of a “compassionate” male and a “coy” female, to not always be the mechanism through which the wonders of natural selection unfold. Roughgarden outlines Darwin’s claims that females choose males as their mating partners based on strength and beauty and thus have control over the next generation. For example, Darwin outlines that male Antlers fight with one another to display their superiority to the female. The female, in turn, chooses the male which wins the fight and is thus controlling the genetic pool of the next generation to be “stronger”. Another example that Darwin outlines is the Peacock, which proudly presents it’s colorful feathers to the Peahen thus “competing” with other males for the female trophy. Roughgarden, however, claims that this theory of sexual selection is biologically mistaken and suggests an alternative form which she calls “Social Selection”. In the words of Joan Roughgarden, “Social selection is for, and in the context of, the social infrastructure of a species within which offspring are produced and reared. The social strategies in the infrastructure generally include cooperation as much as- or more than-...
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