While some bird species have evolved extreme forms of ornamentation, others are plain. How does this happen? Explore photos of the closely related group of tropical tanagers and discover how most are a riot of color while some are remarkably drab.

Then learn how to test for cases where evolution has favored plain feathers rather than fancy ones.

Fanciness Lost thumbnail
Launch the immersive Fanciness Lost Interactive Feature section. Launch Now
Fanciness Lost is part of a larger Interactive Feature where you'll find:
  1. Fancy Males thumbnail
    Fancy Males Find the males in this fast-paced photo quiz Fancy Males
  2. Ways To Be Fancy thumbnail
    Ways To Be Fancy Watch rare footage of feathers, songs, dances, & design skills Ways To Be Fancy
  3. How Fanciness Evolves thumbnail
    How Fanciness Evolves Watch as the birds-of-paradise bring evolution to life How Fanciness Evolves
  4. Fancy Males & Choosy Females thumbnail
    Fancy Males & Choosy Females Tour of the origins of male showiness and female choosiness Fancy Males & Choosy Females
  5. On a Sage-Grouse Lek thumbnail
    On a Sage-Grouse Lek Experience mating season with the fanciest wild birds in North America On a Sage-Grouse Lek
  6. Fanciness Lost thumbnail
    Fanciness Lost Explore the origins of brilliantly colorful tropical tanagers—and their plain-looking relative Fanciness Lost
  7. A Fancy Experiment thumbnail
    A Fancy Experiment Discover how biologists uncover the rules of attraction in wild birds A Fancy Experiment