Interestingly enough, (or maybe not-so-interestingly...) there is evidence to suggest that humans actually aren't the only species that seeks out aesthetically pleasing stuff to gaze on. Jane Goodall's primate research, for instance, documented incidents of groups of adult chimpanzees waking up their little chimp babies and walking out into clearings, then holding them in their laps at the crack of dawn while they sat still in a little chimp-mob and stared at the sunrise. Asking the chimps what the hell they were doing, of course, wouldn't've been terribly productive, so I suppose there is no absolute proof that they just wanted to watch the sun come up and share the beauty of it with their little ones, but none of the naturalists on Goodall's team in Gombe could discern any group-protecting benefit to the behavior.

Male Australian bowerbirds (family paradisaeidae) have the especially daunting task of being "architechts for aesthetics" when it comes to mating season. Rather than primping and preening their bright tailfeathers or making a big fuss with their mating calls, these boys have to decorate their bachelor pads with arched entryways made of vines and branches, and shiny, brightly colored trinkets they'd been able to find or steal from ... well ... from wherever. The females choose their mates based solely on the looks of their bowers. Only the boys with the prettiest digs get the girls.

Aes*thet"ics, Es*thet"ics [Gr. perceptive, esp. by feeling, fr. to perceive, feel: cf. G. asthetik, F. esth'etique.]

The theory or philosophy of taste; the science of the beautiful in nature and art; esp. that which treats of the expression and embodiment of beauty by art.


© Webster 1913.

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