After 20 years’ research, he has come to doubt sexual selection in this area:
Behavioral ecologist Steve Nowicki of Duke University called birdsong “unreliable” as a clue for choosy females seeking a smart mate, in a paper published in the March 2018 Animal Behaviour. He will also soon publish another critique based on male songbirds that failed to score consistently on learning tests. And in what he calls a “public service announcement,” Nowicki summarized the negative results of those tests on January 4 at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Tampa, Fla. “This was a beautiful hypothesis that got beaten up by data,” he says.Susan Milius, “Male birds’ sexy songs may not advertise their brains after all” at Science News
It’s odd. The fact that he came to doubt the thesis after twenty years is the first time some of us sense a good reason to at least take it seriously. That is, the fact that a specific hypothesis of that sort might be wrong implies that others might turn out to be right, as opposed to mere Darwinian storytelling. (= “You see, the reason the male animals fight is that the females will then mate only with the strong ones. Now, you see, Darwin all explained that… ” Meanwhile, in real life, the female runs off with the dopey male who is just standing there beside her because he doesn’t want to get hurt… And as for the Darwinian strong males? Perhaps they have a future as antlers in heaven. )
See also: Rob Sheldon on the failure of the selfish gene theory in peacocks as well as bees.
Can sex explain evolution?
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4 Replies to “Researcher: Male birds’ songs do not advertise intelligence”
The same could be said for first time human male interactions with women. 🙂
Ah yes, Ed George at 1, the invention of the palindrome: Madam, I’m Adam
That was a hard standard to beat, you must admit.
Somehow “smart mate” in the context of “bird brains”, seems a little ironic. 😎
And the male birds are smart enough to know how to get a female’s attention. Step number 1. If they have flying figured out that is a good second step. Then understanding how to consummate the deal. Just make sure you take her back to her place because you don’t want her to know that you are too dim to build a nest. 😀
News@2. I peaked at “I love your blouse, can I talk you out of it”. As you can imagine, it didn’t work. Thankfully, I am a little older.