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 Two: What Males Will Do — Apparently, there is nothing a male will not do for the right to mate with a female — dance, sing, fight, change body colors, illuminate, even agree to be eaten alive. There is often a surplus of males, and they are instinctively driven to compete in order to pass their genes to the next generation. But it takes two to tango. Now, scientists are learning to what extremes males will go in order to find that dance partner.