Bowerbird Architecture

The New York Times recently covered some cool new research that shows that Australia’s Great Bowerbirds use techniques of illusion and perspective to make their mate-attracting constructions sexier. The researches explain:

Male great bowerbirds actively maintain size-distance gradients of objects on their bower courts that create forced-perspective illusions for females viewing their displays from within the bower avenue.

Bowerbird aesthetics offer an interesting angle on evolution and art itself — there are a variety of theories about the biology of art, which we explore here at The Beautiful Brain.  Some of the most striking theories are reductionist views: perhaps art sprung directly from sexual selection – the need to impress our mates – and it’s variety, constant change, and centrality to human life should be viewed through an evolutionary lens.  It’s an interesting thought, and certainly gets some support from the bowerbird arts collective.

About the author

Sam McDougle

SAM MCDOUGLE is a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. His writing has appeared in Vice and The Atlantic.

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