Darwin Day Dinner — why we pick our mates

This year’s Southern Connecticut Darwin Day Dinner celebration, which takes place Saturday, Feb. 7, is shaping up to be a highly attended affair. The event, which begins at 6 at the Norwalk Inn & Conference Center, includes a cocktail hour, dinner, humorous science quiz with prizes, and entertaining presentation on “Darwin’s Really Dangerous Idea.”

Darwin Day planner Jason Cutler of Wilton says “It’s an opportunity for like-minded individuals learn and share one of the most important innovations in the history of science.”

The speaker this year is Prof. Richard O. Prum, William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, and curator of ornithology and head curator of vertebrate zoology at the Peabody Museum in New Haven. His talk is titled “Aesthetic Evolution by Mate Choice: Darwin’s Really Dangerous Idea” and will address some fascinating issues:

  • Aesthetics and beauty permeate our culture, but how are these derived from the perspective of evolutionary biology?
  • What is aesthetic evolution?
  • What mechanisms of aesthetic evolution have impacted humans and human sexuality?
  • And what is meant by “coevolution of the human arts?”

Prof. Prum will be giving this year’s lecture while many will be eating one of T-Rex’s distant relatives.

“We pick professors who are not only renowned experts in their fields, but who have the gift of presenting their material in entertaining and easily understandable ways,” said John Levin, an organizer of the event.

This year’s dinner is sponsored by the Norwalk Public Schools’ Science Department, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, the Bartlett Arboretum, Earthplace, The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, The Wilton Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the Unitarian Church in Westport, Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County (HFFC), the World Affairs Forum, and the CT Audubon Society.

Darwin Day is an international celebration of science and humanity held around Charles Darwin’s Feb. 12th birthday, celebrating the discoveries and life of the man, born in 1809, and  expressing gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity.

The cost is $65 per person. Information: darwindayct.org.