29 Nov 2017

Sneaky male animals trick their mates

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:15 pm on 29 November 2017

There are countless dating rules for attracting those you desire but in the animal world, deception and even disguise is used to lure in mating partners.

New research from the University of Otago has found that some sneaky males actually pretend to be females, to avoid aggression from big rivals, and to move in on the object of their affection. 

Lead author Erica Todd has likened the cunning movements of her subject species, the bluehead wrasse, to a soap opera. 

Can you spot the sneaker male? Distinctive territorial males (top left) defend courtship territories visited by groups of females, which may also include cryptic “sneaker” males.

Can you spot the sneaker male? Distinctive territorial males (top left) defend courtship territories visited by groups of females, which may also include cryptic “sneaker” males. Photo: Kevin Bryant

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