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Peacock

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Peacock

Postby jebus197 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:14 pm

So OK I've hit a point that most people studying biology must encounter at some point. But what exactly is the purpose of the peacock's tail? I've heard arguments that it's an example of sexual selection, however I've also seen research that females will equally chose males with reasonably drab displays, as equally often as they chose males with elaborate displays.

So what exactly is going on? Don't get me wrong, I'm an ardent subscriber to the theory of evolution, but this seems a tad perplexing.

Also didn't Wallace at least have something of a point, that Darwin was imbuing creatures with little or no cognitive capacity the ability to make complex value judgements about the future fitness of a potential mate?

There are though some clear and interesting parallels in human populations, where a measure of 'attractiveness' is not always based purely on phenotypic expression (the most handsome males don't always make the best choice of long term partner - and it's likely that a whole range of different metrics are subconsciously employed by females in gauging relative fitness.) So how likely is it that the peahen, or female dung beetle (or whatever) are capable of engaging in a similar range of complex selective choices?

Doesn't this present a bit of a problem for this concept - and if so, how might it be resolved?
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Postby JackBean » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:11 am

I don't think they are supposed to make such judgments. It's rather that the better will simply have more offspring.
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Postby jebus197 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:58 pm

I'm not sure that makes a great deal of sense. But thanks.
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Re: Peacock

Postby animartco » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:49 pm

jebus197 wrote:So OK I've hit a point that most people studying biology must encounter at some point. But what exactly is the purpose of the peacock's tail? I've heard arguments that it's an example of sexual selection, however I've also seen research that females will equally chose males with reasonably drab displays, as equally often as they chose males with elaborate displays.

So what exactly is going on? Don't get me wrong, I'm an ardent subscriber to the theory of evolution, but this seems a tad perplexing.

Also didn't Wallace at least have something of a point, that Darwin was imbuing creatures with little or no cognitive capacity the ability to make complex value judgements about the future fitness of a potential mate?

There are though some clear and interesting parallels in human populations, where a measure of 'attractiveness' is not always based purely on phenotypic expression (the most handsome males don't always make the best choice of long term partner - and it's likely that a whole range of different metrics are subconsciously employed by females in gauging relative fitness.) So how likely is it that the peahen, or female dung beetle (or whatever) are capable of engaging in a similar range of complex selective choices?

Doesn't this present a bit of a problem for this concept - and if so, how might it be resolved?


Hi Jebus. Darwin wasn't particularly interested in the intellligence of animals, but he was aware that females especially avian females, exercised joice in their selection of a mate. It can be the mate with the finest feathers, the loudest crow, the most artistic builder of a bower, or the most dominant male in the centre of a lec.
In the case of human females choosing mates, looks often take back seat to 'provider ability'. Since males tend to be the providers, looks are more important to them, on the basis that a good looking woman is usually more healthy and genetically viable. It's all very logical and natural. There will appear to be exceptions, but the rule is fairly universal.
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