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Ugly males more fertile than hunks

Thursday, June 3, 2010
Getty: Brad Pitt
Do Brad's good looks come with a trade-off?
Ladies, good news if you partner's lacking in the looks department, he may be more fertile than a better-looking bloke, a new Australian study has found.

The theory is based on a study of tropical guppies, conducted at the University of Western Australia by Professor Jonathan Evans. The vibrant-coloured fish were chosen for this study as they have two types of mating, "courtship" displays (conducted by the handsome fish) and "sneak" mating (done by the average-looking fish).

In the study, the colourful, more attractive male fish who courted their mate were found to have poorer sperm quality than the average-looking males, which is nature's "trade-off" between characteristics than enable the male to reproduce, Professor Evans said.

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This supports the theory of "sperm competition", Professor Evans said, where females mate with several males and the partner with the fastest-swimming sperm fathers the offspring.

"Males that predominantly performed sneak matings were less ornamented but had faster-swimming sperm than those that predominantly used courtship," Professor Evans wrote in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

"The reproductive advantage enjoyed by attractive males might potentially be offset by the poor performance of their ejaculates during sperm competition."

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