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Successful Dads Have Not So Successful Daughters

Dads at the top of the pecking order can rest assured that their male offspring will take after them, but it's a very different story when it comes to the daughters, especially in the case of red deer.

A new study on red deer has found that genes that may prove useful for their sons, may not have the same effects when it comes to their female offspring.

The boffins also state that though this study was carried out in deer, the same could also hold true for humans, and could explain why successful human dads don't have the same traits as them.

The research carried out on deer showed that the female offspring of the biggest and strongest stags were less successful at breeding and had fewer fawns during their lives than daughters of the not so successful males.

This caused them to theorise that some genes are designed to benefit just one gender and can handicap the other sex.

"We see this sexually antagonistic selection because the male and female deer need to fulfil different requirements in order to be successful," the New Scientist quoted lead author of the study Katharina Foerster of the University of Edinburgh, UK, as saying.

Foerster and her colleagues studied data about the deer collected over the last 40 years from the Isle of Rhum, off Scotland's west coast. Success among stags was judged on the basis of how many fawns they sired.

Loeske Kruuk, of the University of Edinburgh, said: "Natural selection means the most successful individuals pass on their genes more frequently than the losers, so more individuals should be carrying those good genes.

"As time goes on we should expect the low-quality genes to be lost, causing less variation between individuals. But we still see huge differences.

"This effect of the best males not producing the best daughters is possibly an important reason why differences remain. Maybe the idea that some genes are better than others is too simplistic: it depends on the sex of the individual."

The study and its findings are published in Nature magazine.


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