- Paperback: 508 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (September 24, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521457653
- ISBN-13: 978-0521457651
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #469,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today Reprint Edition
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"This book is witty and well-informed; it will certainly raise some hackles, but it will not bore. I think this book is an important achievement in evolution biology." Michael J. Ryan, Cell
"The Ant and the Peacock is a beautiful book, fascinating to scientists and historians alike, and elegantly written. I had forgotten what a pleasure it is to find an academically serious and important book that is genuinely gripping, so that you feel compelled to go on reading as if it were a good novel." Richard Dawkins
"In her racy and provocative way, Dr. Cronin tells a story that sums up the essence of neo-Darwinism....Part detective story and part philosophical enquiry, The Ant and the Peacock offers a paradox in every paragraph." J.G. Ballard, Weekend Telegraph
"This is a book about the evolution of beauty, goodness and intelligence, three things that especially puzzled Charles Darwin. It is part history, part science-reporting, part philosophy, and though it is footnoted like an academic book it reads much too well to be left to the professionals. Nobody with an interest in how the human mind has come to work the way it does can fail to be gripped by it." The Economist
"The Ant and the Peacock is both erudite and fun, authoritative but, by and large, an easy read." John Gribbin, The Times Educational Supplement
"Cronin's book is a mixture of careful, perceptive history and enthusiastic advocacy....she succeeds in keeping the past and present separate when she needs to and in illuminating past controversies by introducing current thoughts on the subject. In her exposition, the light of understanding shines in both directions." David L. Hull, Nature
"...should be lauded for its ambition and its impressive control of some of the most recent literature in the field of evolutionary theory and behavioral ecology." Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis, ISIS
"As a look at the history and philosophy of Darwinism, it is a valuable reference..." James Williams, New Scientist
"...brings the intellectual world of Darwin and Wallace to life--even mavens of darwiniana will find new material and new insights--while effectively communicating some of the most recent evolutionary thinking. I heartliy recommend that everyone read this book." M. Wilson, TREE
"Almost anyone interested in evolution will learn something new from working through the easy-to-read arguments in The Ant and the Peacock....[I]t's arguments are especially worthwhile in helping one understand the darwinian and wallacean views of the same subject." William T. Weislo, Annals of the Entomological Society of America
How can natural selection favor the ant that "renounces tooth and claw" or tolerate the ornamental and apparently useless peacock? Contemporary answers to these riddles and their nineteenth century roots are analyzed in a text geared to the general reader as well as the professional.
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good sense," devoid of esthetics.
Cronin chronicles the history of sexual selection with craft and precision. Her writing is unambiguous, providing excellent insights into many aspects of evolutionary thinking. As she develops her theme, she aknowledges her debt to Dawkin's work on the influence of genes manifesting as guides to adaptation. Cronin adds a new term in describing the merging of Mendelian genetics and Darwin's gradualist concept - "modern Darwism". She carefully explains how natural selection operates at the genetic level to achieve a "trade-off" of costs and benefits to arrive at selected traits. In this analysis, Cronin gently but firmly applies Darwinian implements to show how critics of modern Darwinism have misled themselves in seeking "alternative" answers to adapation. The have been asking the wrong questions!
This view was hotly challenged by paleontologist Stephen Gould in a now-famous essay. He viewed with horror Cronin's application of gene selection as a definitive evolutionary process. He made a wide-ranging critique which attempted to refute applying any facets of animal behaviour to humans. The review touched off the [mostly] trans-Atlantic dispute over how adaptation actually works. It was the Sarajevo of the "Darwin Wars" between Gould and Dawkins, perhaps best summarized by Daniel Dennet. Cronin's use of evidence should have forestalled that conflict. Cronin's skills in applying essentials to explain adaptations are unimpeachable and her skillful prose only enhances the value of this work. It will stand for a long time as a landmark work in evolutionary studies.