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21 November 2007
Attractiveness Hereditary
by George Atkinson

Sexy dads produce sexy sons, say University of Exeter researchers who believe they have established that attractiveness is hereditary. While scientists already know that specific "attractive" traits, such as peacocks' tails in the animal world, are passed on, the heritability of attractiveness as a whole is more contentious. But the new study, published in Current Biology, shows that attractiveness could indeed be hereditary.

In the study, the researchers randomly paired-up fruitflys (Drosophila simulans) and found the length of time it took for them to mate ranged from just two minutes to two hours. Female fruitflies need to make themselves accessible to males for mating to take place, so males cannot force copulation. Therefore, the speed at which mating occurs can be taken as an indication of the attractiveness of the male to his female partner.

After the males had mated with around three females each, their sons (who were full and half brothers) were paired with single females. Again, the time for copulation to occur was recorded. This allowed the researchers to look at the genetic component of attractiveness.

They found that attractiveness is hereditary, passed on from father to son. The study indicates that one evolutionary benefit females may enjoy by mating with attractive males is that they will produce "sexy" sons, which are more likely to be successful in mating.

Having now shown that attractiveness can be passed on from father to son, the research team believes that the findings could apply to other species. Although not tested, researcher David Hosken believes his findings could be applied to humans; "It's possible that attractiveness is hereditable across the animal kingdom. It could even be the case in humans that the sexiest dads also have the most desirable sons."

Related articles:
Evolution And The Penis
Daddies' Girls Attracted To Men Who Resemble Their Fathers
When Choosing A Husband, Size Matters
Attractiveness: The Evolutionary Aftermath

Source: University of Exeter

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