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Sexual selection is a bogus concept

subdued vs. showy male scarab/Douglas Emlen, University of Montana

No, that’s not the way the ScienceDaily media release puts it, of course:

Why do some animals have extravagant, showy ornaments — think elk and deer antlers, peacock feathers and horns on dung beetles — that can be a liability to survival? Charles Darwin couldn’t figure it out, but now a Northwestern University research team has a possible explanation for this puzzling phenomenon of evolution.

Just think: The team get to be minor saints in the calendar, for helping the Great One.

The researchers developed a mathematical model that made a surprising prediction: In animals with ornamentation, males will evolve out of the tension between natural selection and sexual selection into two distinct subspecies, one with flashy, “costly” ornaments for attracting mates and one with subdued, “low-cost” ornaments.

It is a matter of faith whether these “subspecies” even exist. “Subspecies”are not separate species, and speciation is what sexual selection is supposed to explain.

“Ornamentation does persist in nature, and our quantitative model reveals that a species can split into two subspecies as a result of the ornamentation battle that occurs over time,” said Daniel M. Abrams, an associate professor of engineering sciences and applied mathematics in the McCormick School of Engineering.

Evidence from nature agrees. The researchers studied available data on animal ornaments, such as deer antlers, peacock feathers, brightness of certain fish and tail length of some birds, from 15 species. They found the same distribution pattern of ornament sizes across many of the species: The animals often split into the two subgroups predicted by the model, one showy and one subdued, with very few in the middle. Paper. (paywall) – Sara M. Clifton, Rosemary I. Braun, Daniel M. Abrams. Handicap principle implies emergence of dimorphic ornaments. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2016; 283 (1843): 20161970 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.1970 More.

“Often split”? How often? And in how many animal species are there “very few in the middle” in terms of their body form?

Science can be about many things but it must at least be about clear patterns of cause and effect. Here we learn that males’ strategies can be across the spectrum from each other and still work. Which probably means that there isn’t any sexual selection—as a science concept—at all. Of course animals make choices but that does not add up to the complexity we see; nowhere near it.

Of course, to the extent that sexual selection is orthodox Darwinism, it meets U.S. school standards, and that keeps generations of Darwinists heading off to the U for further indox.

See also: People are talking about this new critique of Darwin’s sexual selection

Husband of new US education secretary once promo’d ID in schools?


Can sex explain evolution?

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This post if even more curious than the typical "News' misreading of a press release that poorly describes some research" Sexual selection is phenomenon by which individuals in a population vary in their ability to find mates. Do you really think this is "bogus". That this just doesn't happen, or that there are very obvious consistent patterns in reproductive success in many species?wd400
December 2, 2016
05:47 PM

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