What’s the News: We may strive for humility, but we benefit from a little hubris, too, according to a study published last week in Nature. Overconfidence in your abilities can help you triumph in competitions you might not have won otherwise, the study found, and can impart an evolutionary advantage when the potential payoff is high compared to the cost of conflict.
Maybe her cheatin’ heart came from Daddy.
What’s the News: Infidelity among monogamous bird couples has always been something of a stumper for biologists. It’s easy enough to understand from the male’s perspective—the more he plays the field, the more offspring he has. But why do females cheat? True, she might get more genetic variety among her offspring, which could help them survive. But the benefits aren’t as clear, especially since she risks losing her mate.
To shed some light on the subject, scientists have charted the coupling of zebra finches, which are usually monogamous, and found that there’s a genetic reason some females engage in extracurricular activity: they get it from their fathers. And this supports a new take on the evolution of infidelity. Maybe it doesn’t have to be in the female’s interest to cheat—maybe it just has to be in her dad’s interest.