Anders Moller of the Laboratoire d'Ecologie at the French national research center in Paris has been interested in why males should have multiple ornaments. For instance, male peacocks not only have a long tail, but they are brightly colored and have eye spots, a crest on their head, spurs on their feet, and a mating call.
Moller's theory was that these ornaments signal different aspects of the male's quality to a female.
"Our main finding is that females are looking at different aspects of a male's immune competence," said Moller. Males, in effect, are walking billboards advertising their health and status.
And these things matter. Previous research has shown that in chickens and quail, at least, the immune system is under genetic control so offspring will inherit their parents' ability to fight parasites.
Thus, it pays for females to be choosy because their chicks, in turn, will survive better and mate with other, equally picky females.
Storyteller: Anders Moller, Laboratoire d'Ecologie, French national research center
Aknowledgements : http://creationsafaris.com/
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