The irish elk, now extinct, had the largest antlers ever. Sexual selection maintained its size and position on its head, which made them appear to their full advantage from all angles, but were of poor use for combat. Such large antlers required an abudant supply of calcium and phosphate and presented difficulties while moving through forests. Their crowns were fantastically impressive and matched in expense.
Sexual selection drives males to spend more of their resources on growing or maintaining these extravagant physical assets. In the same way, we value elaborate decorations that proclaim this wealth, such as jewels, crowns and gold embroidery. Beauty is ridiculous and what we find attractive can be irrational, but it is in our nature to appreciate and be obsessed with it nonetheless. It persuades us to use extensive funds and labour to produce it, but it remains much more pleasurable looking at it than being or supplying it. Our adoration of beauty is imperfect but it is the motor of human and animal lives.
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