31 May 2009

The evolutionary advantage of transvestism.

This cracked me up:
In a recent journal article, researchers from the University of Whitwatersrand (South Africa) and the University of Sydney (Australia) reported that young male Augrabies lizards avoid older predatory males by, basically, cross-dressing (pretending to be female by suppressing their extravagant male coloration until they are fully developed and able to defend themselves). Thus, they avoid being attacked and, at the same time, increase their own freedom to hit on females. (They must still be careful, say the researchers, because the older males might whiff their male scent, which cannot be suppressed.) [Agence France-Presse]
Not only did I find the content amusing, I was amused by the editor's gratuitous use of 44 parentheticals to describe the other 47 words. Kudos.
The researchers dubbed the female-appearing males "shemales." The female Augrabies lizards apparently welcomed the shemales into their company, often pairing off to enjoy lunch, shopping, and late-night phone calls where they dish about the appearance of the other lizards.
Okay, I made that last bit up. But I didn't make up this part:
...the immature males took advantage of their ease of approach to the females that their disguise gave them, and actively courted the true females. While they might initially be surprised at the approach, the females are usually not unwilling to mate with the juveniles.
Upon further investigation, the researchers noted that female Augrabies lizards seem to respond enthusiastically to the taste of cherry Chapstick. Even more strangely, this behavior is seen much more frequently during "sweeps week" and undergrad.
For your reference, here's a female and shemale Augrabies lizard. See if you can tell the difference:

2 chimed in:

AKCB said...

Subtle, but there upon close inspection.

J9 said...