Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Promiscuous cheetahs!

Somewhat off the beaten path for this blog, but a few months ago, while reading a book, probably one of Dawkins' more biology/genetics books, it popped into my head that, given that cheetahs had passed through a severe population bottleneck a long time ago, I would guess that they would probably be less choosy about their mates than they had been before the bottleneck. My thinking was, with so few potential partners around, those who were still picky would be less likely to meet up with another cheetah up to their standards, and therefore less likely to bear a litter that season. So you might end up with, well, promiscuous cheetahs:

For female cheetahs in the Serengeti, the call of the wild is just too hard to resist as new research shows nearly half of their litters are made up of cubs with different fathers.

And while the serial infidelities of the females does ensure a broader genetic mix to help the survival of the endangered species, it comes at a cost, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said on Wednesday.

Chalk up another one for evolution!

Well, technically, it isn't exactly the effect I was predicting. There's a distinction between pickiness and faithfulness, after all. But I do think it connects rather well, and could be explained in much the same manner.

No comments: