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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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ScienceShot: Sex for Dinner
12 July 2012 12:00 pm
The way to a woman's heart is through her stomach—at least for the swordtail characin. When a male of this tropical freshwater species (Corynopoma riisei) wants to mate, he dangles an "ornament"—a flag-like appendage normally hidden close to his body—in front of his desired date. The ornaments come in different shapes and sizes, and researchers have suspected since the 1960s that the shapes reflect the females' preferred foods. Now a team of researchers has confirmed this by studying female diet and male ornament variation in different populations of the fish. Ant-like ornaments (pictured) were a hit among the females who most heavily fed on ants that fell into the streams and rivers where the fish live; oval, egg-like ornaments were popular with females that preferred beetles and beetle larvae. The scientists were even able to reproduce the food-based attraction in the lab by introducing ants into the diets of aquarium-raised females who were fed flake food all their lives. After 10 days on the ant diet, these females preferred the ant-like ornaments to the beetle-like ones. The discovery, published online today in Current Biology, represents the first known example of males of any species evolving to look like dinner to better their chances with the opposite sex.
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