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Flirty fish may solve riddle of gay animals

Flirty fish may solve riddle of gay animals

Scientists have discovered male fish become more attractive to the opposite sex when they display gay behavior.

Researchers at the University of Frankfurt studied fish such as the Atlantic molly which is more attracted to male fish they see having sex with females.

The study published in Biology Letters revealed this behavior also worked when males were seen ‘flirting’ with other males, increasing their attractiveness to females as potential mating partners.

The team of scientists claim their findings may be the key to understanding why homosexuality is displayed in other animals.

‘Male homosexual behaviour – although found across the animal kingdom – remains a conundrum, as same-sex mating should decrease male reproductive fitness,’ the researchers said.

‘In most species, however, males that engage in same-sex sexual behaviour also mate with females, and in theory, same-sex mating could even increase male reproductive fitness if males improve their chances of future heterosexual mating.

‘Females regularly use social information to choose a mate; eg. male attractiveness increases after a male has interacted sexually with a female (mate choice copying).

‘Here, we demonstrate that males of the tropical freshwater fish Poecilia mexicana increase their attractiveness to females not only by opposite-sex, but likewise, through same-sex interactions.

‘Hence, direct benefits for males of exhibiting homosexual behaviour may help explain its occurrence and persistence in species in which females rely on mate choice copying as one component of mate quality assessment.’