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Animal Antics

December 25, 2009

For some animals, being too attractive to the opposite sex can actually hurt the gene pool.


Oversexed fruitflies. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Is there such a thing as being too sexy? There is if you’re a female fruitfly. Scientists at the University of California Santa Barbara found that large bodied female fruitflies attract so much attention from dancing, singing males that they never get a moment’s rest, even to eat. As a result, they get weaker and lay fewer eggs. The research suggests that the male fruitflies’ singlemindedness actually hurts the fly population, since the alpha females spread their genes less effectively.

In other animal research, scientists report in the journal Current Biology that veined octopi stack up halves of coconut shells that are just the right size for hiding in. Then they spread their bodies over the top so that their feet point downward, and trot off with their collection. The researchers say it’s the first case of an invertebrate animal collecting tools for later use. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.