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Thread: Sexual selection (in some species) towards general fitness rather than towards expression of secondary sexual traits?

  1. #1 Sexual selection (in some species) towards general fitness rather than towards expression of secondary sexual traits? 
    Forum Freshman onechordbassist's Avatar
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    Aug 2013
    In evolutionary biology, sexual selection is usually discussed as selecting towards the expression of secondary sexual traits - which have a detrimental effect to general fitness - while keeping a minimum general fitness to ensure survival at least until sexual maturity. This is where sexual dimorphism comes from.

    Lately I was pondering wether sexual selection happens as well in species with only little or no sexual dimorphism. If it does, selection should be happening towards general fitness rather than towards the expression of secondary sexual traits. I think this is the case in humans, as sexual dimorphism is, while definitely expressed, not as pronounced as in some comparable species and while there are differences in body frame and behaviour, they rather mark trends than explicit differences - it's more a spectrum of capabilities and traits which overlap strongly in both sexes.

    I was also wondering how this could be researched.

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  3. #2  
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    Oct 2013
    Dang. That is a really good question......

    To be honest, I don't really have any concrete answers for you, but just to get the conversation started, I'll give this a shot.

    You might take the example of Drosophila???? (Someone back me up here but I'm pretty sure that their sexual differences are not terribly pronounced. They are discriminated mostly by the color of the anal region and the presence or absence of male genitalia, from what I can tell)

    Drosophila is probably a better model for analyzing sexual dimorphism (or the lack thereof) than humans because they are much more versatile. You could look at environmental factors (ie. diet, temperature, etc.) and genetic factors that affect appearance without causing sterility and see how general fitness evolves along with certain physical characteristics in mutants compared to wild-type. Perhaps.....

    Again, awesome question

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  4. #3  
    AI's Have More Fun Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Washington state
    There are different lines of evolutionary change in all species. The primary pressure for evolutionary change is survival, so if the environment is changing and stressing the species, survival will be the driving evolutionary force. Once the species is tuned to survive in a given niche, the pressure to attract a mate takes center stage and that's where we get peacocks and blue footed boobies. But then finding a mate is basic survival of the species is it not?

    Humans, have the ability to map each individuals genome. Suppose everyone searched for a mate by searching for the best genetic match, rather than the haphazard way we've been doing it? How many generations would it take to eliminate all genetic disease? How many more geniuses could we breed for every 1000 new individuals?

    I don't know the answer, but something like that may become necessary to ensure the survival of the human species.
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