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Thread: How do genes that express themselves as the blue in feathers have a higher reproductive chance?

  1. #1 How do genes that express themselves as the blue in feathers have a higher reproductive chance? 
    Forum Ph.D.
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    I am looking for alternative explanations besides sexual selection.


    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    If thy right nipple offend thee, pluck it off! Goes for the other, too!
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    One possibility is that they improve survival somehow, for example, the feathers might look blue to us (and hence very different from, say, the forest background) but they might appear indistinguishable from the environment to potential prey and/or predators.

    Or, the blue colour might be associated with another gene that conveys a benefit (kind of the opposite of the fact that most male white cats are deaf, for example).


    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Time Lord
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    Species identification > sexual selection.

    Firstly, because in general it is better to be easily identified, than to be mistaken for another species or to be vague. Most animals are constantly moving among others, and all goes smoothly when they know who's who without a second glance. Hyenas needn't waste energy stalking other hyenas, zebras needn't startle when they see other zebras in their peripheral vision, nor the distinctive appearance of wildebeests around them, and so forth back and forth.

    Secondly, if you can't identify your own species you won't copulate fruitfully anyway. So what the blue feathers do for sex is announce "I'm the right species". The cock with blue plumage may try to copulate with everything in sight, but only a same-species hen "keyed" to his appearance will allow it.

    What drives this to absurdity is when males have nothing better to do than harass females continuously - which to the egg-laying female is a waste of time/attention/energy - so she evolves to somewhat ignore the males. In turn the males further evolve to better distract females. And so forth.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    I'm lost.

    What blue feathers?
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    I'm lost.

    What blue feathers?
    The bluebird of happiness?
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post

    The bluebird of happiness?
    You may not be far off. From Wiki: The symbol of a bluebird as the harbinger of happiness is found in many cultures and may date back thousands of years.

    I'm trying to remember from reading Dawkins where a particular crab that resembled a samurai was always thrown back into the ocean by Japanese fisherman to the point where now that crab dominates. Same could be said for blue feathers, what humans don't kill and why could be the reason blue is a popular feather color
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Time Lord
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    for blue feathers, what humans don't kill and why could be the reason blue is a popular feather color
    Interesting angle but shouldn't it run the other way? Aztec nobility for example prized showy feathers as much as gold. The so-called Moctezuma headdress incorporates tail feathers from 225 rare quetzals, and besides that they made capes, banners, fans, etc. from such. Hunting birds for plumage must have been lucrative. Same story for blue-bearing species everywhere.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  9. #8  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    for blue feathers, what humans don't kill and why could be the reason blue is a popular feather color
    Interesting angle but shouldn't it run the other way? Aztec nobility for example prized showy feathers as much as gold. The so-called Moctezuma headdress incorporates tail feathers from 225 rare quetzals, and besides that they made capes, banners, fans, etc. from such. Hunting birds for plumage must have been lucrative. Same story for blue-bearing species everywhere.
    Quetzals According to article were not hunted and killed by Aztecs and Mayas. Spanish conquerors had other ideas. Goes to show you that cultures vary and animal life may or may not suffer because of that. Isn't that what I said? Maybe RNoodles lives in area where culture is similar to Aztecs/Mayans?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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