Talk:Fisherian runaway

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Needed changes[edit]

This article could use a revision of my quick description of the mechanism, responses to Fisher's proposal of the mechanism, and citations. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) - 04:19, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

  • Article lacks coherancy. The description doesn't make much sense to the layman. It needs to be rewritten. Also needs sources. I rewrote the intro a bit to try to summerize the text, but this ins not my forte and could use a lookover by an expert. --Lendorien 19:36, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
The article needs to try to go into the "I'm such a fit peacock that I can survive and reproduce in spite of my outrageous predator-attention-attracting tail"-territory. Currently it sounds (at least in the intro) as if Fisherian selection is some kind of error. --Peter Knutsen 14:11, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Peter, I think you're confusing this with Zahavi's Handicap Principle, which is something else (I think the mentioning of the peacock's tail here is a poor and confusing choice for that reason. Runaway selection is a mechanism for exaggerating traits that usually arise as adaptations. Handicap principle explains traits that are sexy because they are maladaptive and thus can only be afforded by the truly fit (it's thus a mark of fitness that can't be faked). The peacock's tail may well have been shaped by both, so it's best here to mention an example shaped by just one. How about the antlers on the now-extinct Irish Elk? --Scott —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:50, 18 February 2008 (UTC)


Having read this article, I might be able to think of some instances of Fisherian runaway evolution in humans - for example, large breasts, large buttocks, a thin waist, and overall slimness in human females. Does anybody else think this is Fisherian evolution? --Luigifan (talk) 22:01, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

Actually, perhaps not. The traits I described don't exactly interfere with survival... sure, the slim frame might make it difficult to manage feats of strength, but adrenaline can overcome this weakness (like in the classic example of a woman lifting her car,) so it's negligible in terms of survival. I also suppose that large breasts might get in the way a bit, but that's probably insignificant (if anything, they would actually provide cushioning for the chest area.) Therefore, the... ahem... "guy-magnet" aspects of the female anatomy are probably not Fisherian evolution; they do not interfere with survival, so their evolutionary success is based solely on their value in attracting mates, without having to overcome detrimental effects on survival. --Luigifan (talk) 17:52, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Although if anyone's still listening to this, I once heard the argument that the very light body hair in humans is a Fisherian runaway effect... ExOttoyuhr (talk) 20:44, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

just curious, do you mean the continued existence of hair even though it is sparse and light of color? Doesnt make sense to me--it would still capture odors and thus be adaptive.DGG (talk) 01:27, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I was meaning the near-complete lack of body hair on humans, compared to the great apes (to say nothing of, say, foxes). On the other hand: humans are one of a very small number of species (horses also come to mind) that have evolved to be capable of running over long distances; in that context the lack of body hair is useful for cooling, and Fisherian and/or neotenic effects are secondary at best. ExOttoyuhr (talk) 14:24, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

Most of those things are sex-specific; since humans are less sexually dimorphic than a lot of other primates, they might simply allow easy identification of the sexes. Pretty much every secondary sex characteristic of humans has been mentioned here... (talk) 02:45, 8 July 2009 (UTC)


I am not quite convinced by the references that the term used for the article title is the standard one. Can any evidence be supplied for this. Is it simply not the ordinary Darwinian case of sexual selection--he described at the start how it leads to what arppear to be apparently maladapticve features. DGG (talk) 02:38, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

I think this is the usual name for the phenomenon. Darwin mentioned this, it's true, but Darwinian theory has had little to say about sexual selection -- cf. the discussion of that oversight in The Dinosaur Heresies. Such contemporary authors as I've read on the subject generally speak of Fisherian rather than Darwinian effects; so this would be an appropriate article to keep, even though Darwin described the concept first. Like any encyclopedia, Wikipedia documents rather than teaches... ExOttoyuhr (talk) 14:31, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
(Fisherian) runaway ((sexual) selection) are the variants I'm aware of. I would have thought 'runaway sexual selection' would be the more common term, but I'm not really sure. Richard001 (talk) 09:28, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Confuses two concepts[edit]

The article mixed Handicap Principle (attributes that need to implies a handicap) with purely Fisherian (do not needed to imply a handicap, can be arbitrary). The distinction is not clear in my opinion. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:32, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

You're right. The peacoack's tail is an example of a costly signal (of a trait that is ultimately beneficial). This need not be the case in runaway selection. A better example would be the (extinct) Irish Elk. I'll see what I can do later. --JorisvS (talk) 22:05, 6 June 2010 (UTC)

Secondary sexual characteristics and sexual dimorphism[edit]

Maybe include a general definition of SSCs before describing their involvement in competition - definition / description presented in the article relates purely to competition.

From the secondary sex characteristics entry in WP: 'Secondary sex characteristics are features that appear during puberty in humans and sexual maturity in other animals, especially those that distinguish the two sexes of a species, but that are not directly part of the reproductive system.'

Looks good. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:34, 24 May 2014 (UTC)