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Male snakes show mystical Darwinian knowledge?

From “The Power of Estrogen: Male Snakes Attract Other Males” (ScienceDaily, Feb. 10, 2012), we learn,

A new study has shown that boosting the estrogen levels of male garter snakes causes them to secrete the same pheromones that females use to attract suitors, and turned the males into just about the sexiest snake in the neighborhood — attracting dozens of other males eager to mate.

In this study, male snakes were implanted with a small capsule that raised their estrogen level to about that of female snakes. After one year of this estrogen supplementation, the male snakes exuded a pheromone that caused other males to swarm to them and form the writhing “mating balls” that this species of garter snake is known for.

And just as the pheromone production could be stimulated, it could be taken away, the scientists found. When the supplementation was removed for a year, the males reverted to normal function and behavior.

What it all mainly shows is that snakes are not very smart. But, curiously, in the midst of a reasonable discussion of the effects of estrogen on snake behaviour, Darwinism rears its stunned head. We are told:

Large and older females, preferred by male snakes because they can produce more babies, also have a slightly different chemical signature in their pheromone. Young, small, females can still attract suitors, but not as readily.

Male snakes clearly can’t tell a she from a he-on-estrogen, so what mystical Darwinian knowledge causes them to prefer a bigger female because she “can produce more babies”? They know? They care?

Oh wait. Evolution happened. Yes, that must be the explanation.

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One Response to Male snakes show mystical Darwinian knowledge?

  1. ‘Evamalution’, please. Not an onerous request, surely…

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