Navigation Links
Survival of the prettiest: Sexual selection can be inferred from the fossil record
Date:1/29/2013

Detecting sexual selection in the fossil record is not impossible, according to scientists writing in Trends in Ecology and Evolution this month, co-authored by Dr Darren Naish of the University of Southampton.

The term "sexual selection" refers to the evolutionary pressures that relate to a species' ability to repel rivals, meet mates and pass on genes. We can observe these processes happening in living animals but how do palaeontologists know that sexual selection operated in fossil ones?

Historically, palaeontologists have thought it challenging, even impossible, to recognise sexual selection in extinct animals. Many fossil animals have elaborate crests, horns, frills and other structures that look like they were used in sexual display but it can be difficult to distinguish these structures from those that might play a role in feeding behaviour, escaping predators, controlling body temperature and so on.

However in their review, the scientists argue that clues in the fossil record can indeed be used to infer sexual selection.

"We see much evidence from the fossil record suggesting that sexual selection played a major role in the evolution of many extinct groups," says Dr Naish, of the University's Vertebrate Palaeontology Research Group.

"Using observations of modern animal behaviour we can draw analogies with extinct animals and infer how certain features improve success during courtship and breeding."

Modern examples of sexual selection, where species have evolved certain behaviours or ornamentation that repel rivals and attract members of the opposite sex, include the male peacock's display of feathers, and the male moose's antlers for use in clashes during mating season.

Dr Naish and co-authors state that the fossil record holds many clues that point to the existence of sexual selection in extinct species, for example weaponry for fighting, bone fractures from duels, and ornamentation for display, such as fan-shaped crests on dinosaurs. Distinct differences between males and females of a species, called 'sexual dimorphism', can also suggest the presence of sexual selection, and features observed in sexually mature adults, where absent from the young, indicate that their purpose might be linked to reproduction.

We can also make inferences from features that are 'costly' in terms of how much energy they take to maintain, if we assume that the reproductive advantages outweighed the costs.

Whilst these features might have had multiple uses, the authors conclude that sexual selection should not be ruled out.

"Some scientists argue that many of the elaborate features on dinosaurs were not sexually selected at all," adds Dr Naish, who is based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

"But as observations show that sexual selection is the most common process shaping evolutionary traits in modern animals, there is every reason to assume that things were exactly the same in the distant geological past."


'/>"/>

Contact: Glenn Harris
G.Harris@soton.ac.uk
44-023-805-93212
University of Southampton
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. TGen, Scottsdale Healthcare study shows drug combination extends pancreatic cancer patient survival
2. Heat-resistant corals provide clues to climate change survival
3. Nutrient-sensing enzymes key to starvation response and survival in newborn mammals
4. Violence in Mali threatening survival of endangered elephants
5. Eating right key to survival of whales and dolphins: UBC research
6. Climate change threatens giant pandas bamboo buffet -- and survival
7. Climate change threatens giant pandas bamboo buffet and survival
8. Mushroom-derived compound lengthens survival in dogs with cancer, Penn Vet study finds
9. Antibiotic residues in sausage meat may promote pathogen survival
10. Scientists identify new gene that influences survival in ALS
11. Survival without water: A key trait of an aquatic invader to spread
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Survival of the prettiest: Sexual selection can be inferred from the fossil record
(Date:4/13/2017)... According to a new market research report "Consumer IAM Market by ... Service, Authentication Type, Deployment Mode, Vertical, and Region - Global Forecast to ... USD 14.30 Billion in 2017 to USD 31.75 Billion by 2022, at ... ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:4/6/2017)... , April 6, 2017 ... RFID, ANPR, Document Readers, by End-Use (Transportation & Logistics, ... Facility, Oil, Gas & Fossil Generation Facility, Nuclear Power), ... Educational, Other) Are you looking for a ... sector? ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... 3, 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, ... detected a statistically significant association between the ... treatment and objective response of cancer patients ... predict whether cancer patients will respond to ... well as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... At its national ... Dr. Suneel I. Sheikh, the co-founder, CEO and chief research scientist of Minnesota-based ... selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame . ASTER Labs ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ComplianceOnlineā€™s Medical Device Summit is ... and 8th June 2018 in San Francisco, CA. The Summit brings together current and ... distinguished CEOs, board directors and government officials from around the world to address key ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... and LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. , ... of Cancer Research, London (ICR) and ... with SKY92, SkylineDx,s prognostic tool to risk-stratify patients with multiple ... as MUK nine . The University of ... is partly funded by Myeloma UK, and ICR will perform ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... Singh Biotechnology today announced that the ... its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3) B VHH13 single ... the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 and inhibit its function. Dysregulation of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: