The XX Factor

“Sexually Extravagant” Male Birds Get Old Faster and Have Bum Sperm

Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images

It’s August, and the lady news is slow. Which is why I’m going to point you to this study from Ecology Letters (via EurekAlert!), which shows that male houbara bustards who are the “showiest” in their prime tend to have high quality sperm—but only for a brief, fleeting moment. They spend half the year in “elaborate sexual displays aiming to charm passing females.” These “sexually extravagant” birds, who live in the deserts of the Southern Hemisphere, pass their reproductive prime more quickly than their more low-key peers, producing smaller ejaculates and more abnormal sperm, according to the press release:

“This is the bird equivalent of the posers who strut their stuff in bars and nightclubs every weekend,” said lead author Dr Brian Preston from the University of Burgundy, France. “If the bustard is anything to go by, these same guys will be reaching for their toupees sooner than they’d like.”

Speaking of posers who strut their stuff in bars and primp endlessly, let this post also serve as a reminder that Jersey Shore returns tonight at 10 p.m. on MTV.