When Darwin got sick of feathers

The man who started evolutionary biology had some bad moments over a bird

By Susan Milius, 00:00 AM February 11, 2009

A peacock’s tail looks gorgeous to us, and probably to the less-decorated female (in front). Yet the tail doesn’t look as if it helps a male survive, which worried Darwin for a while.

A peacock’s tail looks gorgeous to us, and probably to the less-decorated female (in front). Yet the tail doesn’t look as if it helps a male survive, which worried Darwin for a while.

Joen 12/iStockphoto

The great biologist Charles Darwin wrote to another scientist in 1860 that looking at a peacock feather made him sick.

OK, he was halfway joking (you can tell from the rest of the letter). But still, you might wonder what was wrong with the man.

He lived more than 100 years ago, but he ...

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