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WB
308839.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 6:13 am Reply with quote

Frederick The Monk wrote:
But surprisingly, they found that females mated with poor-quality peacocks as often as with "flashy"


Great quote

 
MatC
308852.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 6:19 am Reply with quote

Quite; it sounds as if the researchers are measuring the qualities of the train that are significant to human eyes, not knowing which qualities are significant to peacocks. Did Darwin suggest which qualities of the train were significant? If he said length, or number of eyes, then the question is a legit debunking at least of that specific point.

 
Flash
308972.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:28 am Reply with quote

To be fair, though, this objection (that we don't know what qualities the peahen admires in a train) must presumably be addressed in the full version of their paper unless they're completely incapable. The quote about oestrogen vs testosterone hints at a careful piece of research which has been misrepresented by being reduced to a soundbite.

 
Flash
308982.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:36 am Reply with quote

This is a good question in a number of ways, one of which is that it lets us make the point about it being a train rather than a tail without hanging the whole question on that essentially footling (sorry) bit of pedantry.

 
Flash
308985.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:42 am Reply with quote

Maybe:
What's the best way to impress a pea-hen?

F: Show her your tail (wrong on two grounds)

But ... what's the correct answer? Did they figure that out?

 
dr.bob
309083.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 9:25 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
it lets us make the point about it being a train rather than a tail without hanging the whole question on that essentially footling (sorry) bit of pedantry.


No need to apologise. I'm well known for my footling pedantry :)

I'll have a dig around for the original article and see if there was anything more to the selection process than arbitrarily deciding what peahens are interested in.

 
Flash
309095.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 9:44 am Reply with quote

The study took them seven years, so you would certainly hope so.

Bob, if you do find that article it would be good to know the 'answer' to the question, ie what are the hens looking for if not the train? Also, if it's not for sexual selection then what is it for?

 
Frederick The Monk
309610.  Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:54 am Reply with quote

The problem with the result is that I don't think they came up with an alternative - it was simply a negative result, which is no bad thing, but it doesn't allow us to answer the question as to what turns peahens on.

 
eggshaped
309622.  Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:04 am Reply with quote

Forfeit for "A peacock's cock"

 
dr.bob
310677.  Fri Apr 04, 2008 11:02 am Reply with quote

I found the article's abstract here, though it's obviously too new for the entire article to be generally available.

The abstract notes that they studied symmetry of arrangement of the tail as well as length and number of eyes. They also note that, while:

Quote:
the peacock's train (1) is not the universal target of female choice, (2) shows small variance among males across populations, and (3) base on current physiological knowledge, does not appear to reliably reflect the male condition


they observed that:

Quote:
the male train and its direct display towards females seem necessary for successful reproduction


so I guess it must be useful for something, even if it's not the sole deciding factor.

 
Flash
310682.  Fri Apr 04, 2008 11:07 am Reply with quote

A bit unsatisfactory. And it was all going so well.

 
WB
325229.  Sat Apr 26, 2008 5:28 am Reply with quote

I just came across this too (from something published in 2005)

Quote:
"Preferred males were those exhibiting the higher number of ocelli in the train, but surprisingly females seemed to prefer males with shorter tails. This was unpredictable because we also found that the longer the train, the more dominant the male," they say. The female preference for both high number of ocelli and shorter tail gave the idea that females may actually prefer the visual perception of a dense cluster of ocelli than a diluted number of ocelli over a large surface. "We calculated the ocelli density and found that it did explain female choice."


More at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050814172316.htm

 
Flash
325273.  Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:26 am Reply with quote

Maybe scope for putting up two pictures of peacocks with their trains up and asking:

So which one do you fancy?

 
dr.bob
326400.  Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:03 am Reply with quote

Phwoar! Look at the ocelli on that!

 
MatC
326412.  Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:19 am Reply with quote

You don't get many of those to the quill pen.

 

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