News of the WeekEcology

Food Fight Drives Evolution

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Science  21 Jul 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5478, pp. 369-371
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5478.369

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On page 441 of this issue, evolutionary biologists showcase the purple-throated carib hummingbird as a rare example of food supply--in this case, flower shape--spurring the evolution of a sexual dimorphism, or a feature that differs between males and females. On St. Lucia, an island in the West Indies, female caribs sport bills a third longer and twice as curved as those of their male counterparts--one of the most extreme bill differences between the sexes in any hummingbird species. In the paper, the researchers link these "whoppingly dimorphic bills" to the specific flowers the male and female caribs frequent.