According to a research published in the journal Science female Túngara frogs make unexpected and rather irrational choices. Researchers from the University of Texas have discovered that the females feel kind of overwhelmed when they are face with many options.
The research team led by biologists Amanda M. Lea and Michael J. Ryan from the University of Texas has studied 80 female túngara frogs. The scientists expected the frogs to make a rational choice, meaning that they were supposed to choose males that are more suitable and attracting for mating. In the case of túngara frog a suitable partner is one that is able to make mating calls with low frequency for a long period of time.
The researchers used speakers and played two mating calls: one that was loud and fast and one that was slow. All of the female frogs chose the first variant. However when the researchers introduced a third mating call that was as slow as the call that was rejected but slower the female túngara frogs chose the rejected second option.
Amanda Lea explained that people are fascinated by this phenomenon because it can also be met in people in the sense that it resembles the decoy effect. This is a marketing trick which makes the customer change his or her mind about two products once he is presented with a third option.
The study does not suggest that the decision the frogs took was bad. The researchers said that they are still trying to find out what is going on with this reversal of preference. The findings contradict the rational choice models about sexual selection and it proves that the context has an important role when choosing a mate. Female frogs might make irrational decisions when it comes to choosing a mate because of time concerns such as the fear of being exposed to predators or the fear of missing the mating opportunity.
Lea drew the conclusion that further research is needed in order to determine what is the reason why the female frogs change their mind and also what is the effect of choosing a less attractive and inferior mate.
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