bedlam (briefly) at Hawker ovals

Subject: bedlam (briefly) at Hawker ovals
From: Paul Taylor <>
Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2012 18:34:49 +1000
On 21/07/2012 5:46 PM, Ian Fraser wrote:
Thanks Ray. This is a biggie - ie good question! There is no simple answer overarching answer, but in any case I'm not really convinced by the question; if you start going through familiar species you'll probably think of more cases where sexes are the same or nearly so than where they're not (and even a very few examples, such as button-quails and painted snipe, where the female is the gaudy one). As a somewhat facile rule of thumb though, the more brightly coloured a male is relative to his mate, the more socially useless he is - although a good case could be made for the social value of being conspicuous and being eaten, rather than letting it happen to the more modestly attired female sitting on the nest. This is overly simple of course, and there's a lot more to it, but I'm sure things are already occurring to you!

"Socially useless" is a bit harsh, Ian... The one liner is: "It works mate!"

Being eaten is certainly a drawback if you are gaudy, but not if you are more likely to pass on your gaudy genes to the next generation. The existence of gaudy males says that:
   a) females like gaudy males, and
b) gaudy males are more successful than less gaudy males in passing on their genes.

In such an environment, being gaudy is socially *useful* - because you stand out from the

See also: "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins (and his bibliography in general.)


   Paul Taylor                                  Veni, vidi, tici -
                           I came, I saw, I ticked.

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