Sunday, August 22, 2010

Don't Front If You're A Wasp!

When female paper wasps fight for nest dominance, they judge each other's fighting ability through facial patterns: the more fragmented the pattern, the tougher they are. You would think a wasp would cheat and fake the facial pattern ... but no (video).

Researchers painted weaker wasps to look more fearsome and pitted them against a rival they had never met before. Submitting at first, the dominant rival then attacked - and attacked with more energy than normal. Researchers also gave weaker wasps hormones to artificially enhance their fighting prowess - but the results were the same.

Results demonstrate that wasps whose facial pattern doesn't match their true "manliness" are severely punished - which is why they haven't evolved a strategy of lying and cheating to gain an advantage.

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