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Making a monkey of Darwinian sexual selection theory

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hybrid male guenon/Maneno Mpongo, Gombe Hybrid Monkey Project

But putting it that way would have been a bad career move, so the researchers present the facts and leave it at that.

From ScienceDaily:

A new study of guenon monkeys in Gombe National Park is the first to provide genetic evidence of ongoing mating between two distinct species. These monkeys have successfully been producing hybrid offspring for hundreds maybe even thousands of years. Prior studies have suggested that the different physical characteristics of these monkeys keeps them from interbreeding. So, if their faces don’t match, they shouldn’t be mating, right? Wrong, according to this latest evidence.

Prior studies and conventional wisdom have suggested that the physical characteristics of guenon monkeys with a variety of dazzling colors and very distinct facial features like bushy beards and huge nose spots are a function of keeping them from interbreeding. The idea is that their mate choices and the signals they use to select a mate are species specific and that they share common traits linked to their species.

So if their faces don’t match, they shouldn’t be mating, right? Wrong, according to evidence from a novel study published in the International Journal of Primatology.

Another graveyard for a Darwinian theory (sexual selection)? So the researcher’s “poop studies” seem to show. Promiscuity is blamed but, essentially, promiscuity only produces offspring if they are possible. It is not a fertility drug. Researcher Detwiler observes,

“But we’re just not seeing any negative consequences from these two very different species repeatedly mating and producing offspring on an ongoing basis. If the differences in their facial features are so important and signal that they shouldn’t be mating, then why is this happening and why do I keep finding hybrid infants?”

“I keep coming back to the idea that if they are only supposed to mate with their own kind, then why did these red-tailed monkeys mate with the blue monkeys, especially if they had males of their own species around,” said Detwiler. “The female red-tailed monkeys present as willing partners and they are not coerced or forced into copulation with blue monkeys.” More.

Why? Because Darwinism means never having to grapple with evidence. Proclamation in textbooks and ruining the careers of people who openly dissent are a satisfactory substitute.

As I (O’Leary for News) noted elsewhere:

We’ve already seen that cross-breeding blind cavefish from different caves can restore devolved sight in at least some offspring (because the mutations that result in loss of sight differ from group to group, and some hybrids end up with all the necessary equipment). But natural hybridization can produce such changes too. Characteristics that are not evidenced in a given generation may remain as potentials.

Ferns separated 60 million years have interbred. The wolf and dog populations of North America are so heavily hybridized that it is a challenge to make sense of them at all in the face of “all the contradictory claims.” Researchers have also identified at least three potential hybridization events (interspecific mating) in Eurasian mice. One scientist noted that other studies “may have missed evidence of hybridization because the researchers weren’t specifically looking for it.” That means we do not currently know how frequent it is. More strangely, common baker’s yeast turns out to have two different versions of its genome, thought due to a hybridization event 100 million years ago.

As a mechanism, hybridization may have developed a taint due to implausible hypotheses such as the supposed pig-chimp hybrid that, according to one theory, produced humans. But, within the bounds of the plausible, it is a means of producing long-term changes in life forms over time.

and, as for sexual selection,

Recently, a key sexual selection theory, Bateman’s theory that promiscuity benefits males but not females, was subjected to replication studies (repeating the experiment to see if it works out) and it didn’t replicate. Sexual selection, despite its immense cultural popularity as an idea, does not seem to work as a mechanism for major evolutionary changes.

Anyway, speciation is a mess. Nothing says “Darwin snob” like indifference to the mess that the entire concept of speciation is in anyhow. We need a better system.

See also: Darwin’s finches not a good example of Darwinian evolution (rather, of hybridization)

Can sex explain evolution?

and

Fossil cichlid implies hybridization played great role in speciation

4 Replies to “Making a monkey of Darwinian sexual selection theory

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Opposites and the exotic are attractive?

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    H’mm, here is the researcher’s suggestion along these lines:

    Detwiler speculates that red-tailed monkeys got to Gombe National Park first and thrived in the environment. Male blue monkeys outside the park had to find new homes after they were kicked out of their groups, which happens when they reach sexual maturity. Sex-driven, they ventured out into the landscape to find appropriate mates — female blue monkeys. Instead, they found the red-tailed females. Apparently, some female red-tailed monkeys were attracted to novel males with different faces and welcomed the sexual advances from these male blue monkeys.

    “I keep coming back to the idea that if they are only supposed to mate with their own kind, then why did these red-tailed monkeys mate with the blue monkeys, especially if they had males of their own species around,” said Detwiler. “The female red-tailed monkeys present as willing partners and they are not coerced or forced into copulation with blue monkeys.”

    Today, Gombe is an isolated forest habitat. Because they are very social and have had to share close quarters for decades or even centuries, Detwiler believes that they have socially learned that if you grow up in a hybrid group it is okay to mate with everyone.

    “The Gombe hybrid population is extremely valuable because it can be used as a model system to better understand what hybridization looks like and how genetic material moves between species,” said Detwiler. “We have this amazing laboratory in nature to help us answer many questions about hybridization and how species boundaries are maintained. This research is very timely because hybridization often occurs in response to environmental changes, as we are seeing with climate change and modified landscapes — it is nature’s way to respond.”

    Another nail in the coffin of racism.

    And, just what is a species, again?

    KF

  3. 3
    Jon Garvey says:

    It’s hard to think of a more dramatic example of sexual selection than the birds of paradise. But even amongst them, hybridisation is rampant – indeed some long-established species have been found to be hybrids. I did a piece on it here a couple of years ago.

  4. 4
    News says:

    What Darwin’s natural selection gets you: Antlers in heaven

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