Decoded: Why peacock dance to impress peahens

Finally, it has been revealed what actually drive peacocks to fan out their colorful feathers and give mesmerising performance in specific season.  According to a new study, India’s national bird dance and constantly gaze by keeping their eyespots or plumes’ iridescent circles almost still at the female counterpart to impress them during mating season.

According to a new study, peacocks have developed this novel technique or trick and it works with the peahens. This way, peacocks are able to display their fitness level and gain more visual attention from peahen to attract her.

Great Charles Darwin was the first observed this phenomenon nearly 150 years ago but he also was unable to explain the biomechanics hidden behind the phenomenon.

Now, a team of researchers from the University of British Columbia, Canada, studied 14 adult peacocks during mating season. It was observed that peacocks generally perform dance in the mating season where they shake their dozens of 1.5 metre long feathers and they can hold it for hundreds of hours to display their strength and fitness level.

Study authors recorded performances of peacocks and used high-speed video to analyse the movements and expressions of peacocks and peahens. Researchers also studied the movement of each feather and its role during the performance.

What’s striking was peacock’s eyespots as they remain still although peacock is shaking his entire body. Lead researcher Roslyn Dakin explained that “they are locked together with microhooks much like those on flight feathers. This gives each eyespot greater density than the surrounding loose barbs, keeping it essentially in place as the loose barbs shimmer in the background.”

While exploring the relation between the length of feathers and their movement, researchers found that peacocks with longer feathers tend to shake it more rapidly. Longer feathers require more strength to shake and it might be a signal to show the fitness levels to the female.

The study funded by National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) appeared in journal PLOS ONE.

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