Category Archives: sexual selection

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 […]

“If this doesn’t get him noticed, nothing will”: the marvels of sexual selection

Just when you think you’ve seen everything amazing that animals can do to attract a mate, you find something even more bizarre. This short video from BBC Earth shows a male pufferfish off Japan working tirelessly to build a stunning “sand castle” to attract females. Narrated by David Attenborough (of course), this video blew me […]

Friday genitalia FTW

Patricia Brennan is an evolutionary morphologist who teaches at Mt. Holyoke College (her website is here), and her speciality is animal genitalia. As the locus of morphological contact during reproduction, one would expect both natural and sexual selection to act very strongly on genitalia, and indeed they have (see William Eberhard’s underappreciated book Sexual Selection and […]

Are male and female brains absolutely identical?

The Guardian has a review out of Cordelia Fine’s new book, Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society, which continues her critique of innate differences between male and female brains and behaviors. The Amazon summary includes this: In Testosterone Rex, psychologist Cordelia Fine wittily explains why past and present sex roles are only serving suggestions […]