back to article Fish boffins: Big-brain babes are brilliant, but benefit for boys is bijou

Aquatic boffins have discovered that increased brain size is only of benefit to female fish and not to males. In a rigorous experiment, the scientists constructed a watery Colosseum for guppies to fight it out against their natural predator, the pike cichlid. Larger brains are typically expected to provide animals with …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did I miss an important fact?

    What was the relative survival rate of males and females?

    1. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Did I miss an important fact?

      Over a hundred year period, both males and females scored 0 on their survival rate.

  2. Grikath

    not contradictory at all...

    Assuming brain size and coloration are indeed linked, expressed in males it stands to reason the big brained females are better at dodging predators. The evolutionary hurdle is in the male line in this case.

    The more colourful males are the ones most likely to actually mate. Those males also tend to have the biggest brains due to the brain size/colouration linkage. Those males that are the most successful in avoiding predation, even while more flashy in colour, and make it to the mating season, will pass on their brain size and wiring to the next generation. This will mean that the females of that generation will inherit the predator-evation routines, but will not express the male colouration, making them doubly effective at predator evasion.

    Never forget that in nature, especially in the species that work the system by sheer numbers, males are expendable. You only need a couple to produce the next generation, and the harder they're "tested", the better for the species.

    1. cyfahead

      Re: not contradictory at all...

      Congratulations for making the only reasonable contribution out of 15 comments so far!

      I wonder if the male guppies have the personal survival inhibitor of being brave. If they are inclined to attack the pike cichlid, perhaps a wired behaviour that helps to protect the females of it own species, they would tend to have a lower personal survival rate but with the benefit of perhaps having helped decoy the cichlid away from the females who are not so expendable. At a species level this would be a useful strategy since the less fast and smart, as in cautious, males survive for future mating while the less thoughtful and aggressive individuals are reduced in number having sacrificed themselves for the greater good. And reduced pressure on food resources during the coming growth spurt period of the coming generation. Perhaps we will find a ratio of 15:1? Or 15:2 ;-) .....

      If this can be seen in many other species

  3. AbelSoul

    The one with the biggest brain...

    ... shall be called The Guppy Conquerer.

  4. Little Mouse


    I saw a documentary the other night where they tried this with sharks.

    Bit one guy's arm clean off they did, and then sank the whole research station to boot.

    1. maffski

      Re: Guppies?

      Bit one guy's arm clean off they did, and then sank the whole research station to boot.

      How big was the boot?!? To be able to fit a research station and a shark in it? Impressive.

      1. JonP

        Re: Guppies?

        To be able to fit a research station and a shark in it? Impressive.

        There was an old lady who lived in a shoe - with advances in modern boot design anything's possible.

  5. John H Woods Silver badge

    Got to log off ...

    ... just going to the tattoo parlour

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Conclusion is obvious

    Males don't think with their brains.

    1. Scott Broukell

      Re: Conclusion is obvious

      But, but, pondering your post has given me a headache and now I'm very confused.

  7. Bucky 2

    I missed the part where they controlled for the coloring difference in male and female fish by painting all the fish the same color.

  8. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Smalled brained females?

    Was this the Kardashian sub-species?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smalled brained females? - Was this the Kardashian sub-species?

      Look how much money she makes and tell me she's stupid. Think about those women PhD students paying their way through "escort" work - intelligence doesn't necessarily manifest itself through rocket science or neurosurgery, sometimes it just leads to the ruthless exploitation of assets.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Smalled brained females? - Was this the Kardashian sub-species?

        and if you think about it, that exploitation is successful because of males thinking with something other than the brain.

        1. Martin Budden Silver badge

          Re: Smalled brained females? - Was this the Kardashian sub-species?

          and if you think about it...

          but not with my brain, presumably?

  9. David Henry

    Male Guppie behavior

    What the research appears to ignore is a basic common trait of male guppies. Their reproductive drive in very high. They spend an inordinate percentage of their active daytime life pursuing the females for sexual activity while otherwise ignoring their environment. The females generally ignore them and spend all their time browsing for food. The males are very distracted by this imperative drive and likely their larger brain is just even more focused on that activity. Sounds suspiciously like college.

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