Female Selection Affects Male Behavior

(by Lance Erlick)

As women become more economically independent and more selective in their choice of mates, will human male behavior and habits take on a whole new category of competition for female attention as it has within various bird communities?

The club-winged manakin is a South American bird in which the female handles all parental care and needs the male primarily for having offspring.

When Richard Prum, a Yale ornithologist, studied the manakin, he found the male could “sing with its feather.” The little male bird hops “acrobatically from branch to branch” and “waves its wings over its back” “in order to attract female manakins.” The bird “produced a loud, clear tone that sounded as if it came from a violin.”

Darwin viewed this behavior as an “example of how females could cause evolutionary change simply by the influence of their mating preferences.” This could explain the peacock’s tail, which has importance to mate selection despite posing a physical danger to the animal from prey.

So, the question is whether human female choices in mates will alter human male physical and behavior development over the coming years?

(From article in NY Times August 2, 2005 by Carl Zimmer entitled A New Kind of Birdsong: Music on the Wing in the Forests of Ecuador.)