For those of us who were not on the football team and for whom the cheerleaders made an art form out of pretending that we did not exist, there is justice and payback – at least in biological world anyhow.
In most mammals and birds it is the big, loud, tough or best-feathered male that get the girls. The North American elk is one good example of this traditional selection process. When fall rolls around it’s the mating season and the mountains echo with the bellowing of bulls seeking to attract females. The males will fight each other and the stronger will drive the weaker off until only the strongest are left to take care of the available females.
Darwinian thought sees these actions as a part of the natural selection process – these actions allow only the ˜fittest” genes to make it to the next generation. While the rewards for the genetically privileged that won the mating battles are initially great in some species, they are not long lasting. Age, injury and disease are elements that get the raging bull elk replaced by the next generation of larger stronger animals, which he helped to make. He in essence made his own doom. It’s not this way in all species. Those ˜lesser” males that didn’t make the cut with the females the first time are still around and they get their chance later on.People just seem to naturally expect the dominant individual to win the breeding race. In some species like quail and Coho salmon the cave-chested, less macho males are the ones that the females prefer. Females learn through experience that the aggressive males can be harmful and dangerous to both them and their progeny. Take the quail for instance. Penned quail were studied for several mating seasons. After the females watched a fight between two males the virgin females preferred the winner but the females with sexual experience picked the loser almost all the time. The “loser” didn’t dominate them; injure them during mating and hung around to help take care of the chicks. Are you listening ladies?In Coho salmon females are more likely to mate with the males called “jacks” which stop growing early and are smaller than their competition. These smaller males are less likely to run off after other females, injury her during breeding and will not damage the eggs that have already been fertilized.Scientists who study animal behavior (ethologists) are finding that these secondary mechanisms of mating selection are a great deal more prevalent that was previously believed. These selection mechanisms can be viewed as a type of social Darwinism though this is not really applicable to non-sentient species, but in humans it applies. So, for those of you who are in Mensa, were in the chess, science or drama clubs and the like, take heart! The ladies will start looking at you in a whole new way if they already haven’t.
Think Global – Act Local!