Those include determining methods to find out the actual criteria used in choosing a mate, what methods work and which do not, and the passing of genes on to the next generation, a field of study Jones says gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s.
"Another big recent advance was the development of molecular markers, which allow us to perform paternity testing," Jones adds.
"These markers can be applied to animal populations, and they give us a definitive record of who is mating with whom and what offspring resulted from the mating events. And also, what is the driving force behind sexual selection? We have an unprecedented ability to document mating patterns but we still don't completely understand why some populations experience strong sexual selection and others don't."
Jones notes that other key questions Darwin's work uncovered but has not yet answered include the role of population characteristics and the environment and how they work together to produce strong sexual selection, and also what determines whether or not female choice will evolve in a particular species.
And perhaps the biggest question of all: How does all of this pertain to humans?
"Darwin concluded that sexual selection existed in the animal world and that humans definitely followed a similar process," Jones confirms.
"But he realized he had to explain it first as it related to animals. Darwin thought that sexual selection was an important process in humans, both for males and females. But how much has sexual selection acted on males versus females in humans? Today, while we are celebrating the 200th year of the birth of Charles Darwin, we know sexual selection occurs and is very important but there are still many unanswered questions about precisely why and how it works, especially in humans."
|Contact: Adams Jones|
Texas A&M University