Guppies love ugly friends, to look pretty

2013-02-13 18:12
When it comes to mating, guppies treasure their ugly friends. They make them look good by comparison. (Clelia Gasparini, AP)

When it comes to mating, guppies treasure their ugly friends. They make them look good by comparison. (Clelia Gasparini, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - When it comes to mating, guppies treasure their ugly friends - because they look so good by comparison.

An article published on Wednesday by Britain's Royal Society says that male guppies prefer to associate with their drab-coloured counterparts when females were around.

"Males actively choose the social context that maximizes their relative attractiveness," the article said. Or, as lead author Clelia Gasparini put it, "If you are surrounded by ugly friends, you look better."

Gasparini and her colleagues at Italy's University of Padua built their theory on a kind of guppy dating game. An aquarium was set up with one female in partition on either end. Guppy bachelorette No 1 had two attractive, brightly-coloured males placed on either side of her. Guppy bachelorette No 2 was stuck with uglier, drab-coloured fish.

When a male guppy was put in the middle of the tank, and given the choice of which female to sidle up to, Bachelorette No 2 was the more popular pick, with male guppies spending about 62% of their time hanging around her side of the aquarium.

What's more, the researchers found that the time guppies spent with bachelorette No 2 correlated with their unattractiveness. The uglier the guppy, the less likely it was that he would hang around the brightly coloured fish placed next to bachelorette No 1.

Because it could be argued that that guppies avoided their brightly coloured pals because attractive fish were more aggressive, or because predators were more likely to spot them, the experiment was repeated. Researchers ran it without any females, and again with the lights in the male enclosures turned down so that the test guppies couldn't see them.

Gasparini, who's now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Western Australia, said the extra experiments helped confirm her theory. But she was cagey when asked whether the results from the aquarium could be applied to a night out at the bar.

"Usually in my research we don't really compare humans and animals," she said, chuckling.

Oh, come on. If this works for guppies - small fish popular for use in home aquariums - shouldn't it work for guys?

She admitted that she had seen this same tactic work "pretty well" for humans.

If you hang out "with someone better looking than you, sure, you have less chance to be picked up," she said. "If you want to impress someone, do you think you will look more attractive in comparison with Mr Bean or George Clooney?"

In a more serious moment, Gasparini said the comparison between guppies and humans was hard to resist. But human dating tricks were far harder to measure.

A subject for further study, then.

- SAPA
Read more on:    italy  |  research  |  marine life
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

MDWA016 COSTING CLERK (9 MONTH CONTRACT ONLY)

Western Cape
Anchor Executive Recruitment (Pty) Ltd
R10 000 - R12 000 Per Month

New Business Corporate Sales Consultant

Western Cape
AGA Recruitment Specialists
R17 000 - R20 000 Per Month

Production Pharmacist

Western Cape
Dante Personnel Recruitment
R40 000 - R45 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

40% off top appliances!

Save 40% on the top 10 appliances on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save 20% on Camping gear!

Buy 4 camping items and save 20%. While stocks last. Shop now!

Fifty Shades of Grey!

This great read will captivate you from cover to cover and leave you itching for more. Get your copy now!

20% off braai items!

Save 20% when you buy 2 braai items. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Pampers!

Save 30% when you buy 3 or more selected pampers products. While stocks last. Shop now!

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You are on form and you may like an audience to share your ideas and concepts with. Drama and creativity flavour your...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.