The lengths that some males go to attract a mate can pay off in the short-term. But according to a new study from scientists at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), extravagant investments in reproduction also have their costs.
By analyzing the fossils of thousands of ancient crustaceans, a team of scientists led by NMNH paleontologist Gene Hunt has found that devoting a lot of energy to the competition for mates may compromise species’ resilience to change and increase their risk of extinction. Hunt, NMNH postdoctoral fellow M. João Fernandes Martins, and collaborators at the College of William and Mary and the University of Southern Mississippi reported their findings April 11, 2018, in the journal Nature. Paper. (paywall) – Maria João Fernandes Martins, T. Markham Puckett, Rowan Lockwood, John P. Swaddle & Gene Hunt. High male sexual investment as a driver of extinction in fossil ostracods. Nature, 2018 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0020-7 More.
Sexual selection theory was an idea invented to supplement Darwinism. But the authors are likely right in thinking that high divergence between the sexes creates an extinction risk. The males, in particular, may diverge to the point of inconsistency with life. The rest is what you might expect. Nice that someone is noticing this fact.
See also: What Darwin’s natural selection gets you: Antlers in heaven
Can sex explain evolution?
Lazarus species: animals listed as extinct that turned up again.