Sexual selection  

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"Among those who have argued that art is a practice evolved in the service of sexual selection are Geoffrey Miller, in The Mating Mind (2000), chapter 8, and Denis Dutton, in The Art Instinct (2009). A more developed and appealing account is offered by the ethologist Ellen Dissanayake, in books published by the University of Washington Press in Seattle: What ..." --The Philosophy of Art, 21, Stephen Davies, 2017

"Fisherian runaway or runaway selection is a sexual selection mechanism proposed by the mathematical biologist Ronald Fisher in the early 20th century, to account for the evolution of exaggerated male ornamentation by persistent, directional female choice. In most species, females are the choosy sex which discriminates among competitive males." --Sholem Stein

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Sexual selection is the theory proposed by Charles Darwin that states that the frequency of traits can increase or decrease depending on the attractiveness of the bearer. Biologists today distinguish between "male to male combat" (it is usually males who fight), "mate choice" (usually female choice of male mates) and "mate coercion" (forced mating). Traits selected for by male combat are called "weapons", and traits selected by mate choice are called "ornaments". Much attention has recently been given to cryptic female choice, a phenomenon in internally fertilising animals such as mammals and birds, where a female may simply dispose of a male's sperm without his knowledge. The equivalent in male-to-male combat is sperm competition.

The exact effect of sexual selection depends on the sex ratio, which is usually slightly biased in favour of the "limiting" sex (typically females).

Male to male combat is also classified as intrasexual competition, while mate choice and mate coercion are also known as intersexual competition.

Females often prefer to mate with males with external ornaments - exaggerated features of morphology. These can plausibly arise because an arbitrary female preference for some aspect of male morphology initially increased by genetic drift, creating, in due course, selection for males with the appropriate ornament. This is known as the sexy son hypothesis. Alternatively, genes that enable males to develop great ornaments may simply show off greater disease resistance or a more efficient metabolism - features that also benefit females. This idea is known as the good genes hypothesis.

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