When it comes to peacock mating, plumage
size matters: study
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[March 16, 2017]
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The size and
width of a peacock's proud plumage attracts the gaze of males likely
sizing up rivals and of females potentially looking for mates, a survey
released on Wednesday showed.
For the study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology,
researchers at Texas A&M University fitted peacocks and peahens with
headgear that tracked their eye movements and monitored what the birds
were gazing at when they looked at members of their group.
"We found that they are mostly looking at the lower portion of each
otherís displays in a similar way that the peahens were assessing the
males as mating partners," said Jessica Yorzinski, an assistant
professor at Texas A&M University specializing in evolutionary biology.
The study said peacocks spent about a third of their time gazing at the
feather displays of their rivals. "They allocated less than 5 percent of
their time during our sample periods gazing at females," the study said.
Both males and females mostly looked at the bottom portion of the
displays, likely assessing the width of the trains, which positively
correlates with the length of the train, the study said.
Yorzinski said that previous research indicated males with longer trains
are more successful in establishing territory and gaining mates.
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A peacock spreading its feathers is seen at the Wat Phra Dhammakaya
temple, in Pathum Thani province, Thailand March 10, 2017.
REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom/File Photo
"This work further supports that by showing the birds are looking at
those traits and assessing the length and the width by scanning back
and forth along the lower portion of the train," she said in a
Yorzinski added that one of the most difficult parts of the research
was trying to strap the little helmet with the eye tracking monitors
onto the birds.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)
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