The bird that may explain why people are unfaithful
Wednesday 15 June 2011
It may not work for Ryan Giggs but as a get-out clause for philandering finches it is just about perfect: I can't help cheating, it's in my genes.
Scientists studying the sexual behaviour of zebra finches have discovered that promiscuity is passed down through generations, providing an insight into how an animal's genetic make-up may influence its willingness to take multiple partners.
Like mourning doves and swans, zebra finches generally form lifelong relationships with a single partner. But small numbers of males and females indulge in frequent extramarital sex.
Such behaviour among monogamous species has often puzzled ornithologists. While the benefits of cheating for the males is clear – offering them an opportunity to spread their genes further than fidelity would permit – females who play away run considerable risks, including the loss of their lifelong partner and a greater vulnerability to sexual diseases.
A new study by German scientists now suggests that cheating among finches may be genetic, with the female offspring of philandering finches much more likely to cheat than their monogamous counterparts.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen spent eight years recording the sexual behaviour of a captive population of more than 1,500 finches over five generations. The behaviour was documented on video and then genetic paternity tests were used to determine which finches had sired the most offspring. Unsurprisingly, finches that chose multiple partners tended to sire the largest number of offspring. But their female offspring were also much more likely to cheat.
Wolfgang Forstmeier, one of the study's lead researchers, believes the results highlight how genetic make-up plays a crucial role in dictating sexual-behaviour traits and even passes between the sexes. The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
- 1 If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
- 4 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 5 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...
£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...
£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...
£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...