From evolutionary biologist Richard O. Prum at the New York Times:
Are These Birds Too Sexy to Survive? Natural selection can’t explain this.
Wow. Careers have been wrecked over such departures from dogma.
Most biologists believe that these mechanisms always work in concert — that sex appeal is the sign of an objectively better mate, one with better genes or in better condition. But the wing songs of the club-winged manakin provide new insights that contradict this conventional wisdom. Instead of ensuring that organisms are on an inexorable path to self-improvement, mate choice can drive a species into what I call maladaptive decadence — a decline in survival and fecundity of the entire species. It may even lead to extinction.
But wait! Don’t most of us know guys like that? Ask around at half-way houses.
Evolved decadence may turn out to be common. For instance, the male Wilson’s bird of paradise has a bright blue, bald crown — a disadvantage when hiding from predators, but handy when it comes to courting a female. The females have the same risky tonsure, albeit in a deeper violet hue. The male wire-tailed manakin has elongated tail feathers, which he swipes across the face of the female during courtship, and which may impede flight. Once again, the females sport the same long feathers. Even the peafowl has a longer tail than she needs.More.
Even we didn’t realize that Darwinism was that rigid in its thinking. Again, wow. 😉
See also: Can sex explain evolution?
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