For sheep horns, bigger is not better

Trade-offs between studliness and survival keep less endowed sheep in the mix

By Jessica Shugart, 16:06 PM July 21, 2013

Sometimes it pays to be mediocre. A new study shows that sheep with a 50/50 blend of genes for small and big horns pass along more of their genes over a lifetime than their purely big-horned brethren, who mate more often.

The finding offers rare insight into an enduring evolutionary paradox—why some traits persist despite creating a reproductive disadvantage.

The results, published online August 21 in Nature, reveal that while big-horned sheep mated most successfully each season, small-horned s...

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