Science

Male manakin birds with acrobatic mating dances evolved smaller bodies

Some manakin males court females with elaborate aerial routines – and in these species, males have evolved to be more lightweight for extra agility



Life



4 May 2022


Male birds that impress females with complex acrobatic movements tend to be smaller than females of the same species, probably because their reduced body size makes them more agile.

In birds, it is common for males to be larger than females, particularly when there is strong competition between males for mates. Unusually, females are larger than males in some species of manakin, a family of birds that live in tropical forests in Central and South America.

Elsie Shogren at the University of Rochester in New York suspected that this size difference might be related to their mating displays. Manakin …


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