nice guys finish first

Contrary to popular opinion, the big, dominant male isn’t the one the ladies like. For certain salmon and quail, the wimpy guys make the girls swoon, reports New Scientist. At an Animal Behavior Society meeting in Idaho last month, Jason Watters of the University of California at Davis announced that he has found that female coho salmon prefer to mate with smaller male cohos, known as jacks, rather than the larger, more aggressive males known as hooknoses. Watters said he believes that the females may prefer jacks because they’re gentler: “Hooknoses were the only ones that chased or bit females. Jacks pull up beside females and wiggle. They don’t touch them; they just advertise.At the same meeting, Alex Ophir of McMaster University in Canada, discussed sexual choice among Japanese quail. Male quail are very aggressive toward one another, as well as other females. Ophir had a female watch a fight between two males and then observed whom she liked better, the winner or the loser. Virgin females tended to prefer the winner, but sexually experienced females were more drawn to the losers. “People just expect the dominant guy to win,” Ophir said. “But females learn through personal experience that these males can be hurtful.”

This news brief appeared in the Random Data column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 8/19/2003.
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