Why flashy females are great mates

January 27th, 2011 - 4:37 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 27 (ANI): A new study from University of Puget Sound explains why contrary to most cases, female lizards of Arizona’s south-eastern mountains are more colourful than males.

The female striped plateau lizards are more colourful than males - displaying an orange patch on their throats during reproductive season - and the more colourful the female, the more robust are her offspring.

“In the female striped plateau lizard the orange-coloured patches they develop during the reproductive season are based on pterin pigments, not on carotenoids, so this trade-off between ornaments and eggs may be eliminated,” said Stacey Weiss.

The study shows that the more colourful the lizard, the more yolk antioxidants there are in her eggs.

“Thus, in S. virgatus, female ornaments may advertise egg quality. In addition these data suggest that more-ornamented females may produce higher-quality offspring, in part because their eggs contain more antioxidants,” said Weiss.

The colouration also suggests that more colourful females produce healthier eggs and attract more and/or higher-quality male mates, ultimately producing high-quality offspring.

The study is published in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Animal Ecology. (ANI)

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