Charles Darwin wrote about it 150 years ago: animals don't pick their mates by pure chance it's a process that is deliberate and involves numerous factors. After decades of examining his work, experts agree that he pretty much scored a scientific bullseye, but a very big question is, "What have we learned since then?" asks a Texas A&M University biologist who has studied Darwin's theories.
Adam Jones, an evolutional biologist who has studied Darwin's work for years, says that Darwin's beliefs about the choice of mates and sexual selection being beyond mere chance have been proven correct, as stated in Darwin's landmark book The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. His work has withstood decades of analysis and scrutiny, as Jones states in his paper, "Mate Choice and Sexual Selection: What Have We Learned Since Darwin?" in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Bottom line: It's no accident that certain peahens submit to gloriously-colored male peacocks, that lions get the females of their choice or that humans spend hours primping to catch the perfect spouses it's a condition that is ingrained into all creatures and a conscious "choice" is made between the two so the romantic fireworks can begin.
Jones says Darwin set the standard for original thinking about animal reproduction and was first scientist to propose plausible mechanisms of evolution, and from there he took it one step further he confirmed that animals' mating choices can drive evolutionary change.
"He noticed that birds, especially, seemed to be a bit picky about who they mated with," Jones explains. "He discovered that birds especially females had preferences and that they did not just choose a mate randomly. He believed this is due to beauty of the plumage, that females usually selected the most colorful males.
"That was an important first step, and it's given us models to work from to try to answer other big questions."
|Contact: Adams Jones|
Texas A&M University