What is an attractive mate? We more or less agree on attractiveness in the human realm. Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt are generally considered hot, while Donald Trump… Less so. Ok, that is looks, but thinking of personality now? Well, again, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt are generally considered hot, while Donald Trump… Now what is attractiveness in non-human animals? Good thing that I am not a female lizard, because I would probably end up with the wrong male, but it seems that animals have a pretty good idea of what is considered an attractive mate for their species.
Snakes are scary, particularly if you are a lizard, so don’t tell your mum that you are seeing one!
If lizard mums are anything like mine, when they are cold they will order their son to put on a jumper. Well, turns out, lizards’ mums ARE like mine. Being the mean researcher that I am, I decided to scare a bit lizard mums during gestation, by putting them in presence of snake olfactive cues (yeah, in addition to being scary, snakes also stink). I maintained them like that for one month, and then after the females laid eggs, I investigated offspring phenotype.
Fear, the anticipation of a potentially imminent danger, is taking over most decisions in modern human societies, from neighborhood watch program to foreign policy decisions. However, fear is not limited to human species and is now believed to influence almost all processes of animal ecology. The fear of being killed allows animals to escape predation, but in return diverts them from mating and eating. Lowering these activities down may have strong impact on population, community and ecosystem functioning.