What Females Want | What Males Will Do

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Part One: What Females Want | Part Two: What Males Will Do

Female jumping spiders will attack and eat anything that moves. This often includes males who may be courting them. So, if a male falls short in convincing a female that he will be a good mate, he may become lunch. This is a compelling reason for males to work hard in perfecting their courtship dances.

In the mating game, it is not always “do or die,” but the penalties can be severe, and there is no single tried and true approach when it comes to the fascinating strategy of attracting a mate. Charles Darwin called it “sexual selection.” NATURE is calling it What Females Want and Males Will Do for love — a two-part miniseries about sexual selection.

What Females Want and Males Will Do explores the evolution of sexual strategies and what makes certain species winners and losers in the mating game. Courtship drives evolution by controlling whose genes are passed on to the next generation, and intense competition gives rise to a wide array of dazzling displays and impressive ornamentation.

From spiders that dance and monkeys that drum in the name of love, to female geladas that seek male partners with hot, red chest patches — this program about sexual selection explores the unique behaviors and special adaptations that determine how animals pick their mates, and how these selections affect future generations. In some species, the normal rules of mating are turned on their head, such as the feisty female topi antelope champing at the bit to have sex with an aloof male or bonobo males practicing free love.

Scientists around the world are making amazing new discoveries about the complex nature of courtship and competition throughout the animal kingdom. It’s sexual education that takes us way beyond the “birds and the bees.”

Part One: What Females Want — In the animal world females often call the shots. But their decisions may be surprising. In an effort to understand the mating game, NATURE follows biologist Chadden Hunter, PhD, through the Simien Mountains of northern Ethiopia, as he observes a troop of geladas, close cousins of baboons. He found that in gelada society females make all the decisions about mating, even though males are twice their size. The males are evaluated on everything from body heat to baby sitting skills. And once selected, no male gelada can ever rest on his laurels. Another male is always auditioning for his job.

You’ll also see female barn swallows that choose a male by the color of his chest and encounter a robotic sage grouse that is helping researchers learn about this species’ elaborate courtship displays.

To order a copy of What Females Want and Males Will Do, please visit the NATURE Shop.

Online content for What Females Want was originally posted April 2008.

Production Credits Print

Television Credits

Narrated by

F. MURRAY ABRAHAM

Produced and Directed by

KEVIN BACHAR

Writer

JAIME BERNANKE

Editor

JIM ISLER

Cinematographers

ROBERT POOLE
KEVIN BACHAR
PAUL ATKINS

Additional Cinematography

REUBEN AARONSON

Associate Producers

ALEXIS SIGGERS
JESSICA SHERRY
RYAN DOYLE

Sound Recordists

DAVID RUDDICK
JOHN O'CONNOR
BRIAN MACALLISTER

Fixers

STUART VERVUURT
CHADDEN HUNTER

Post Production Supervisor

RYAN DOYLE

Assistant Editors

SERIM YILMAZ
TOM SAWYER
ROBERT JOHNSON
BRICE BISHOP-PULLAN

Sound Editor

BRIAN BEATRICE

Online Editor

JOSHUA KANUCK

Colorist

IRA SCHWEITZER

Re-Recording Mixer

BRIAN BEATRICE

Special Thanks

US BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
LESLEY LANCASTER
DR. DAVID E. HILL
DR. FREDERIC VENCL

Music Supervisor

JIM ISLER

Music

PUMP MUSIC LIBRARY

Stock Footage Researchers

ALEXIS SIGGERS
RYAN DOYLE

Stock Footage

BBC MOTION GALLERY
NATURAL HISTORY NEW ZEALAND
HOWARD HALL PRODUCTIONS
DR. KIMBERLY BOSTWICK
ITN SOURCE
SILVERMAN STOCK FOOTAGE
OXFORD SCIENTIFIC
AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DIGITAL MOTION

For NATURE

Series Editor

JANET HESS

Supervising Producer

JANICE YOUNG

Senior Producer

LAURA METZGER

Producers

JILL CLARKE
IRENE TEJARATCHI

Production Manager

JULIE SCHAPIRO THORMAN

Production Assistant

JAYNE JUN

Manager

EILEEN FRAHER

Audio Engineer

DOUG JOHNSON

HD Online Editor

DAVID NOLING

Series Producer

BILL MURPHY

Executive In Charge

WILLIAM GRANT

Executive Producer

FRED KAUFMAN

A Production of Pangolin Pictures and Thirteen/WNET New York. This program was produced by Thirteen/WNET New York, which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2008 Educational Broadcasting Corporation

All rights reserved

Web Credits

Director of Production
DANIEL B. GREENBERG

Producer
TANNER VEA

Production Assistant
DANIEL ROSS

Writer
ELYSE EISENBERG

Designer
MICHAEL DIMAURO

Creative Director
NICK MILLER

Pagebuilding
BRIAN SANTALONE

Technical Director
BRIAN LEE

Director of Digital Strategy
DAVID HIRMES

 

Photos for "Overview" and "To Have, to Hold, and to Cheat" © EBC. Photo for "Submit a Caption" © Lisa Taylor. Photo for "The Animal World of Swinging" © Chuck Dresner, St. Louis Zoo. Photo for "Links and Books" © Gail Patricelli. Other photos from "What Females Want."

Thirteen Online is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York's Kravis Multimedia Education Center in New York City. Dan Goldman, Executive Director, thirteen.org. Bob Adleman, Business Manager.