We tend to think of evolution as the accumulation of practical adaptations through the process of natural selection—the so-called “survival of the fittest.” So how do elaborate characteristics of the birds-of-paradise fit in to our understanding of evolution? It turns out that sexual selection, the so-called “survival of the sexiest,” can be just as strong an evolutionary force.

In this illustrated video you’ll explore how natural and sexual selection can shape the way animals look and act, sometimes transforming the drab into the magnificent.

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How Fanciness Evolves 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. Fancy Males & Choosy Females thumbnail
    Fancy Males & Choosy Females Tour of the origins of male showiness and female choosiness Fancy Males & Choosy Females
  4. 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
  5. How Fanciness Evolves thumbnail
    How Fanciness Evolves Watch as the birds-of-paradise bring evolution to life How Fanciness Evolves
  6. A Fancy Experiment thumbnail
    A Fancy Experiment Discover how biologists uncover the rules of attraction in wild birds A Fancy Experiment
  7. Fanciness Lost thumbnail
    Fanciness Lost Explore the origins of brilliantly colorful tropical tanagers—and their plain-looking relative Fanciness Lost