Alex Schnell is a recent Grass Fellow and visiting scholar at MBL and a former Ph.D. student with MBL Senior Scientist Roger Hanlon. This post summarizes their new study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
By Alexandra K. Schnell
Whether in combat with a rival male or canoodling with a female, most male cuttlefish show a bias to the left. These left-biased cuttlefish are more likely to be better lovers but less likely to be successful fighters, whereas right-biased cuttlefish are likely to show contrary patterns.
Behavioural biases are common in nature, with animals ranging from bees and octopuses to parrots and whales showing evidence for favouring one side over the other for specific tasks. Such biases are thought to have evolved because they often result in advantages, making individuals better at certain tasks. However, it is less clear why many populations have unequal numbers of left- and right-biased individuals. For example, 90% of the human population is right-handed!
Our new study, conducted on giant Australian cuttlefish, Sepia apama, shows that benefits that occur during fighting and mating might be driving this phenomenon. Read more …
Caption: A male giant Australian cuttlefish, Sepia apama, (on left) mate guarding a female cuttlefish. Photo credit: Alistair Merrifield