Females Who Choose Their Mates Care More About Their Offspring — In Bird Populations, Anyway

The lady birds in the “arranged marriage” group were less interested in hooking up with their partners, and were more likely to abandon their eggs.


Dating is a wonderfully terrible pastime, filled with boredom, rejection, and cycles of hope and heartbreak. In order to better understand the mystery behind human dating and mate selection, scientists looked to the birds (curiously, not the bees).

Researchers Malika Ihle, Bart Kempenaers, and Wolfgang Forstmeier published in the Public Library of Science, Cambridge, a study in which zebra finches were split into two groups: ones that were allowed to choose their mates, and ones that had their mates chosen for them. In the group that chose their mates, the offspring had a much higher survival rate than those in the other group. The lady birds in the “arranged marriage” group were less interested in hooking up with their partners, and were more likely to abandon their eggs. The takeaway is that when we get to choose our mate, we are more likely to continue our species. It matters less whether we’re genetically compatible and matters more whether we, well, like you.

On the other hand, having too many dating choices can make us shallow.


Everyone has a friend whose partner we look at quizzically — why him? As comedian Liza Treyger pointed out, “Your arms are different lengths; why are you talking to her?” But love is strange, and women’s tastes vary greatly. Apparently, so does the taste of female zebra finches, who showed no consistency in what defined a “hot” male finch. Both human and avian females, it would appear, are more concerned with the personality than empirical hotness. Of course, humans have their own bag of rocks they bring to relationships. Fiches don’t have to worry about attachment theory, for example.

Still, it’s an interesting find that our friends in the avian family share some of our mating/dating habits. I can only imagine the zebra finches gathered around the bird equivalent of brunch, eating worms and drinking mimosas, chatting about how much dating sucks in 2015. Maybe there’s even a bird dating app called Flock, where they can swipe in search of the perfect mate. In any event, love will always retain its air of mystery, and even as studies come out in an effort to better understand our choices, at the end of the day we’ll still probably be saying, “I don’t know what she sees in him.”

--

Lori Chandler is a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, NY, which is the most unoriginal sentence she has ever written. You can look at her silly drawings on Tumblr, Rad Drawings, or read her silly tweets @LilBoodleChild. Enough about her, she says: how are you?

PHOTO CREDIT: iStock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less