Darwin said that peacocks with the most impressive plumage reproduce most successfully. But do they? And if so, why?
Investigations concerning the second question have explored everything from survival disadvantages of highly visible, cumbersome plumage to a search for links between the immune system and feather quality.
This study re-explored the question of whether peacocks with more eyespots attract females better or not. Previous studies produced contradictory results. The present study found a threshold below which males could not attract mates. Researchers concluded there must be a multiple factors involved in successful peacock courtship.
Impressive feather development requires so many factors, regulated by different genes, to be present at once that none of them could have evolved with a survival advantage individually.
At a molecular level, the evolutionary view of peacock plumage cannot answer the problem of irreducible complexity. In other words, impressive feather development requires so many factors, regulated by different genes, to be present at once that none of them could have evolved with a survival advantage individually.
Finally, if pretty peacocks successfully court lots of peahens and produce lots of pretty offspring, they have not advanced the cause of evolution at all because they have not produced a new kind of animal or even evolved new information. Their offspring are still peafowl whose genomes consist only of reshuffled peafowl genes.
For more information:
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us.