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The sickening sight of the peacock's tail

27 Apr 2017

The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!

Why did Charles Darwin, one of the greatest thinkers ever to have lived, write these famous words?

Long, long ago some peahens started finding peacocks with bigger, more colourful tail feathers more sexually attractive. And so peacocks with more impressive tails were the ones to get more sex and have more peachicks, including more peachicks that found flashy tails attractive.

Once this dreadful runaway process got started it quickly lead to the evolution of the dazzling peacock’s display we see today.

The poor peacock now has a gaudy liability for a tail that makes him much easier for predators to see, catch, and eat.

Peacocks were not made for the enjoyment of humans and the trivial fact that many of us are enthralled by the cruel beauty of their tails is a matter of no consequence. Mere sentimentality.

Sometimes when we look deeper at what we perceive to be the awesome beauty of nature, what we actually see is the cold, harsh reality of the mindless struggle for survival that beats away relentlessly at the heart of life.

Darwin understood this.

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