The eyespots have it after all

The eyespots have it after all

New experiments may reconcile conflicting studies regarding the peacock’s allure

By Susan Milius, 11:02 AM April 26, 2011

The tale of how the peacock got his eyespots has taken a new turn.

His shimmering train of feathers tipped with eye-shaped spots ranks among the most cited examples of what Darwin called sexual selection. In this singles-bar approach to evolution, flashy plumage and other ornaments arise not because they enhance survival of the fittest but because they favor reproduction of the sexiest.

Basic principles aren’t in doubt for the peacock exemplar. Yet “everybody uses it without knowing much abou...

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