Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Out, damned orange spot!

This morning I read about guppy research. I like the line of research pursued by Dr. Helen Rodd, a University of Toronto zoologist. Her line of attack on the great fort of unknown knowledge revolves around guppy courtship. How does a female guppy decide which male is most acceptable? This kind of question fascinates me, and yet I usually read it only in the campaign literature of political candidates, holding this kind of thing up as an example of wasteful government spending. By the way, let's digress for a moment to note that "wasteful government spending" reached research pinnacles which prolonged life and energized industry over the past half century.

Dr. Rodd's theory as to female guppy attraction boils down to coloration. Male guppies in the wild, for the uninitiated, wear a motley assort of colors when adult, enabling them to enliven the ditches and small waterways in which they thrive. They're more fun than fingerpaints.

Dr. Rodd believes that boy guppies with orange spots may look more attractive to girl guppies. She even has a rationale for why. Apparently, guppies love orange fruit. Dr. Rodd theorizes that girl guppies find orange colors appealing, as orange has that romantic fruity flavor.

They don't call guppies "millionsfish" for nothing. I've noticed that guppies I've kept, when healthy, face little problem in courtship no matter their color palette. But there's something both incredibly, anthromorphically human and unalterably inalienably weirdly inhuman about girl guppies liking boy guppies for their citrus-like spots. No matter how much you think you can wrap yourself around in this old world, there's more to absorb, more to digest. That's the beauty of science, isn't it? It's a constant series of paradigm shifts within paradigm shifts.

Perhaps I'll be bold, and ask Dr. Rodd to do a written interview to post on my "Feeder Guppy Rescue League" yahoo group message board. Perhaps I'll instead just think about wild guppies, and their colorful courting ways.
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