Photo of the Day #8: Male Peacock

View Images

Some of you may have noticed some changes to the front page of Sb and some new photos in the category sections, and I’m proud to say that one of my photos made the cut for this week under the Life Science section. Hence, I’ve decided to post the “full” version of the photo here. In case anyone’s unfamiliar with the animal, it’s an Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, although not everyone could merely enjoy the aesthetics of the striking display of the male bird. Writing to Asa Gray, Charles Darwin once related;

…I remember well the time when the thought of the eye made me cold all over, but I have got over this stage of the complaint, and now small trifling particulars of structure often make me feel uncomfortable. The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!

Today, however, it is known that the elaborate feather trains present in males but absent in the females is a result of sexual selection, another important evolutionary mechanism Darwin articulated in his famous work The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex.