Subject: Re: Rhinoceros Auklets Date: Apr 5 10:05:46 1995 From: Dennis Paulson - dpaulson at ups.edu
>I believe adults of both sexes develop these breeding ornaments. In >Crested Auklets, such ornaments are appreciated by both sexes, i.e., males >prefer large-crested females just as females prefer large-crested males >(Jones & Hunter 1993; Nature 362:238). > >It is tempting to speculate that auklet bill-adornments were selected for >to amplify the visual signal of competence that a billful of fish must >send to other auklets. > >David Wright >dwright at u.washington.edu
You could extend this hypothesis to puffin bills, too. Then it would be interesting to know if fish in the North Pacific are more likely to be yellow and those in the North Atlantic more likely to be black, as the basal bill color of Horned vs. Atlantic puffin would suggest! Good idea, David.
You could also hypothesize that these adornments evolved to fool the gulls that go after incoming alcids carrying fish. But I guess the little auklets don't bring fish back in their bills, so that would work only for Rhinos and puffins.
Dennis Paulson, Director phone: (206) 756-3798 Slater Museum of Natural History fax: (206) 756-3352 University of Puget Sound e-mail: dpaulson at ups.edu Tacoma, WA 98416