Unnatural Selection

Katrina van Grouw, said it is not about survival or being fit but how we are “best fitted to our environment”.

The science author and illustrator fascinated an audience with excerpts of her new book Unnatural Selection, which has been  released to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication.

She said the book was a tribute to what Darwin might have achieved had he discovered how individual traits were passed down from one generation to another.  She said “inheritance was Darwin’s sticking point”.

150 years on, van Grouw is able to build on Darwin’s theory comparing the selective breeding process with natural selection in the wild.

She challenged the view that “domesticated animals are just man-made freaks”.  She said “there are some [freaks] in the wild too” and that “the same traits can, and do occur in wild and domesticated animals alike”.

Van Grouw said it’s not just “a science book, but also a work of art”. The book consists of 425 pictures and includes illustrations of numerous animals, from Gouldian finches to naked neck chickens. 

If you are interested in more talks like this, please also see Event 251 at 4pm on Friday 31 May.

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Chaired by Oliver Balch

Picture by Chris Athanasiou