Finding the perfect mate (and then keeping them) has never been easy – countless songs and movies certainly remind us of that fact. But a couple of recent studies have shown that for both humans and birds, specifically the Blue Tit, it’s even harder than you might think.
According to Otago University department of zoology Associate Professor Phil Bishop, perfumes and deodorants are one of the reasons it’s so hard for humans to get a date these days. He said that masking our natural scent, or our pheromones, makes it harder to “sniff out” a genetically suitable mate.
Bishop pointed out that our natural scent is “nature’s way of preventing inbreeding and preserving genetic” adaptations. Martha McClintock, founder of the Institute for Mind and Biology at Chicago University, supported this, saying that people are more attracted to someone who has a different genetic makeup than their own, and that these subtle chemical differences can be picked up with our noses.
Some singles have begun to take part in pheromones-scented speed dating, according to McClintock. Attendees slept in a t-shirt, which was then placed in a clear plastic bag. They would then smell the different t-shirts and choose the scents that they were the most attracted to.
While humans are working on going beyond looks to find a suitable mate, for the blue tit, beauty really is skin (or feather) deep. The small birds have bright blue and yellow feathers, with the males having more vibrant colors than the females. The males use all kinds of techniques when trying to attract a mate – they fly around, bring gifts, and sing songs in order to woo the lady birds (which is what sometimes happens at more traditional speed dating events for humans…).
Despite these games used to attract a mate, when it comes down to it, female tits are more attracted to males with feathers that shine more brightly in the UV range. And, according to a study recently published in Frontiers in Zoology, the males’ feathers had better stay bright after their eggs have hatched, or the female might not be a diligent mother to their chicks.
On the other hand, if the female tit’s feathers became duller and she became less attractive, her mate would be less attentive to both her and their offspring. He would make fewer trips to forage for food, which led to weaker chicks with less of a chance of finding a mate and producing offspring themselves.
So whether you’re a human or a bird, finding and keeping a mate just ain’t easy. But if you leave the perfume on the shelf and make sure that your feathers shine, you might just find (and keep!) the One who is perfect for you.