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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Why Some Male Marsh Harriers Dress in Drag
8 November 2011 7:01 pm
All's fair in love and war, even among marsh harriers, a bird of prey found in western France. Some male harriers are colored almost exactly like females, with mainly brown plumage and white heads and shoulders, instead of the overall gray of adult males. It's not because they are immature, as is the case in many bird species, but because they spend their life in drag, a type of permanent mimicry known in only one other species of bird. Since some 40% of males in one population of the raptors "dress" like females, scientists surmised that there must be an advantage. And indeed, true males aren't as aggressive toward these female-mimics, the researchers discovered after setting out decoys in breeding males' territories. Since they don't have to worry about serious fights with their male neighbors, the female-like males can horn in on the breeding males' territories and their mates, the scientists report online today in Biology Letters. Intriguingly, the female-plumage-mimics not only look like females—they even behave like them, too: They attacked the female decoys the scientists set out, while largely ignoring male decoys. They also attacked the decoys of female-mimics as the female-colored male is doing in the photo above.
See more ScienceShots.