A prime example of a handicap is the peacock’s tail. The long, elaborate, and ornate tail of a peacock does not have any adaptive value; it does not serve any tangible, useful purpose that would aid the survival of the peacock. In fact, it only harms its survival chances. Peacocks with longer, more elaborate trains are easier for predators to catch and kill than fellow peacocks with shorter and simpler trains. So they only have costs and no benefits. But that, according to Zahavi, is precisely the point. Peacocks are advertising to peahens “Look, I am so genetically fit and I can run so fast that I can still evade the predators with this huge thing hanging from my ass! Them other guys ain’t so fit and the only reason they can evade predators is because their trains are shorter. They wouldn’t be able to evade the predators if their tails are as long as mine! Now whose genes would you like your offspring to carry?” And peahens indeed do prefer to mate with peacocks with longer, more elaborate, and more symmetrical tails that are biologically very expensive to maintain, so that their male offspring will also sport long, elaborate tails that attract females of their generation.Which is total bullshit. Go see real peacocks, and you might notice that they raise their tailfeathers when people get too close... because they want to mate with them? I don't think so. More likely, to scare them away by their huge size - plus confuse them with the eyes on the feathers. As I've suggested once before.
19 hours ago in The Phytophactor