Monday, October 6, 2014

My Year of Darwin 10/7/2014: Darwin's sexual selection

 Charles Darwin

"And this leads me to say a few words on what I call Sexual Selection. This depends, not on a struggle for existence, but on a struggle between the males for possession of the females; the result is not death to the unsuccessful competitor, but few or no offspring." Charles Darwin, Origin of Species 1st edition (on Kindle)

I think many will find this passage offensive - "males for possession of the females" but we should consider that he probably meant "mating opportunities" but he was working with the language offered to him. This passage may also imply that females are passively accepting males after their battle. Perhaps, in some systems, they do. And the cases I think of are Red-wing Blackbirds where males fight for the best territories and females also place themselves on the best territory. This is, at least, the story as I've heard it but I bet the system is much more complex. Female choice has been shown experimentally by workers such as Geoff Hill and Patricia Gowaty working with House Finches and Eastern Bluebirds.  

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