Category Archives: sexual selection

Saturday duck report: A mallard fight at Botany Pond; sadness ensues

The soap opera continues at Botany Pond, culminating yesterday in a terrible duck fight between James and an invading drake, and then the apparent displacement of James from Honey’s affections by the new interloper duck.  That incident also included the interloper getting trapped in a window well, and me having to rescue him. But let’s […]

A new review (and critique) of Richard Prum’s book on sexual selection

I’ve now read Richard O. Prum’s new book, The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World—and Us (I’d highlighted the work earlier in my critique of his NY Times article about the book). Click on the screenshot to go to the book’s Amazon site. (Prum is a professor of ornithology, ecology, […]

Male pipefish who get pregnant reduce investment in their offspring if they see a sexy female

This new paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B caught my eye because of its title (abstract here but paper behind a paywall; judicious inquiry might yield you a pdf).  Check out the title and the abstract, and I’ll explain a bit of the results below (I read the paper quickly): First, a […]

Hybrid speciation in Amazonian manakins?

Rather than give a long introduction to hybrid speciation, I refer you to a recent post I did on diploid hybrid speciation in the Galápagos finches; just have a look at the introduction, which talks about the commonness of hybrid speciation in plants (via polyploidy) and its rarity in animals.  The Galápagos finches may be […]

A bright blue tarantula

Have a look at this lovely blue tarantula from Brazil. The species is Pterinopelma sasimai, named after Dr. Ivan Sazima, a Brazilian zoologist who discovered the species in 1971 but didn’t formally name it. He had a blue female which died during molting. Here are two videos: The species wasn’t in fact formally named until 2011, […]

New peacock spiders

Peacock spiders are not only beautiful, but great examples of sexual selection, for the males show both amazing colors and fascinating display behaviors that they use in their attempts to attract females. “Attempt”, of course, doesn’t mean they’re behaving with conscious intent, but just showing the results of sexual selection. The only reason peacock spiders […]

The bizarre mating dance of the hooded grebe

Reader Charleen sent me the tweet below, which shows the courtship ritual of the hooded grebe (Podiceps gallardoi), a rare and critically endangered species (fewer than 1000 individuals) that lives in isolated Patagonian lakes. Have a look at this craziness, and ask yourself “Why the hell are they doing this?” or “What selective advantage is […]

The amazing display of the Standard-winged Nightjar

by Matthew Cobb About 20 months ago we discussed the amazing Peruvian lyre-tailed nightjar, with its fabulous streamer feathers. This morning a rather different, and extraordinary nightjar tailfeather adaptation popped into my inbox, thanks to the Nightjar News email newsletter. It included information about the Standard-winged Nightjar (Caprimulgus longipennis), which sounds kind of… standard, until […]

The superb Superb Bird of Paradise

The Cornell Birds-of-Paradise Project is a great website that contains all kinds of information about the 39 species in this fantastic group. There are videos and information about the sexual dimorphism in plumage and behavior, and other aspects of the birds’ biology, information about their evolutionary history and the people who study them, and general information […]

An evolutionary biologist misrepresents sexual selection in The New York Times

Friday’s New York Times contained an article on sexual selection in birds (link and title in the picture below) by Richard O. Prum, the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. Prum has a new book out, The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate […]