For the tiny, dull male Mexican molly fish, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Its female counterpart is promiscuous and selective. She prefers giant, colorful males, causing smaller ones to show off bisexual behavior to get a mate.
LiveScience.com is reporting that female Mexican mollies, also known as Poecilia Mexicana, fall for flashy, big-bodied males willing to defend them with aggression, pushing aside less attractive males to the curb. These aquatic rejects hardly get a chance to compete, but new research is suggesting that if they engage in homosexual behavior, females may actually show new interest.
Scientists at the University of Frankfurt in Germany conducted experiments using lab-raised female mollies with animations of virtual males, including scenes of less attractive males “engaging in heterosexual and homosexual genital nipping.”
In the study, scientists observed males regularly nipping at the female genital opening before mating. However, they sometimes nip at other males’ organs before attempting to mate with them as well. After the females spotted the smaller males nipping at the genitals of other males, their attraction for them was significantly boosted. In addition, researchers insist females could distinguish between heterosexual and homosexual situations.
The team, citing a quote by film director Woody Allen, who once said “bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night,” state this might be true for male mollies. Researchers said that female preferences for males engaging in homosexual behavior could be an “intriguing mechanism” to further explore why bisexuality evolved in some species.
The researchers also found female mollies were attracted to smaller males after they saw them mating with other females, which is consisted with “female mate-choice copying,” in which a male’s attractiveness increases if he has already been chosen by another female.
The study was published Wednesday in the journal Biology Letters.