Fauna: The Beautiful (and Hilarious) Mating Dances of Birds of Paradise

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For the past eight years, the Cornell Ornithology Lab's Ed Scholes has been working with National Geographic photojournalist Tim Laman to document and understand the biological mystery that is the bird of paradise. In the "trailer" for the project, below, Scholes explains that the birds "represent one of these singular events of evolution that stand out, that are extraordinary ... you're driven to say why? How did that happen?" Their colorful feathers and intricate dances are driven by a meticulous process of sexual selection. "The females are looking at this whole package," Scholes says, "and can discern something about [the male] by minor variation. The more complex it is, the harder it is to make it look right. If one little feature is out of whack, you're going to be able to tell." Still, dancing on a tree branch might be a fun alternative to the online dating scene.

For more videos from the Cornell Ornithology Lab, visit the YouTube channel

Via It's OK to Be Smart

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg's work in media spans documentary television, advertising, and print. As a producer in the Viewer Created Content division of Al Gore's Current TV, she acquired and produced short documentaries by independent filmmakers around the world. Post-Current, she worked as a producer and strategist at Urgent Content, developing consumer-created and branded nonfiction campaigns for clients including Cisco, Ford, and GOOD Magazine. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University, where she was co-creator and editor in chief of H BOMB Magazine.

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