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 joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
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