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Giraffe Weekend: Can Sexual Selection Save This Evolutionary Icon?


If natural selection can’t do it, maybe sexual selection can. As the weekend draws to a close, enjoy the third and final installment of the classic ID the Future series on the giraffe as an icon of evolution. The discussion is with geneticist Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, author of The Evolution of the Long-Necked Giraffe.

In considering the origin of these creature, some have reached for sexual selection as an explanation — a force often in conflict with natural selection, as Lönnig point out. He cites the tragic consequences for a peacock with its extravagant, highly noticeable tail when a tiger is in the vicinity.

Lönnig concludes that, “Sexual selection is not the cause of the long-necked giraffe.” He instead outlines an ID approach, rich with possible avenues of research, with due notice to considerations of  irreducible complexity, specified complexity, probabilistic complexity, and more. 

Download the podcast or listen to it here. Also don’t miss the two earlier podcasts in the series, “Giraffe Weekend: ‘You Cannot Simply Stretch out the Neck’” and “Giraffe Weekend: The Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve.”

Photo credit: Luca Galuzzi (Lucag) [CC BY-SA 2.5 ], via Wikimedia Commons.