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Evolution dating

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What traits contribute to fitness in these octopuses?This news brief describes traits which have been affected by sexual selection.

It is vulnerable to cheaters — males who don't play by the strategic mate-guarding rules.Mate-guarding, territory control, and other aggressive strategies to ensure that one fathers a lot of offspring have evolved over and over again — and as they have, these systems have repeatedly been invaded by alternative mating strategies like sneaking.Though new discoveries about octopuses have revealed what may seem like unusual mating behaviors, they are actually tried-and-true evolutionary tricks — the result of an evolutionary mating game that has played out time and time again in many different animal groups.And animals have evolved some doozies when it comes to sneaky mating behavior: Small dung beetles play the milkman calling at the back door.They excavate a side entrance into the tunnel system guarded by a larger dominant beetle, mate with the female chambered there, and try to slip away undetected.So long as aggressive monopolizing males continue to father the most offspring, the new strategy won't completely take over in the population.

The frequency with which we see sneaking behaviors across a wide range of distantly related animal species is testimony to their evolutionary success.

Mutations that arise in a mate-guarding population and that allow their bearers to side-step the system and father offspring through an alternative strategy will be favored.

This alternative strategy might involve female impersonation, hit-and-run mating, or something even stranger.

Research and describe traits in three other organisms not mentioned in this article that have been affected by sexual selection.

Teach about sexual selection and fitness: This comic strip for grades 6-12 follows the efforts of a male cricket as he tries to attract a mate, and in the process, debunks common myths about what it means to be evolutionarily "fit." Teach about another case in which evolution favors strategic flexibility: This article for grades 9-12 explains how a critically endangered parrot employs different reproductive strategies depending on the situation.

If he is successful, he will father more eggs than his rivals.