Function of the Peacock Tail
A peacock’s tail (or more professionally known as the “train”) is widely seen as a symbol of sexual selection. The idea that male peacocks are attracting females with their spectacular display came from Charles Darwin and, for a long time, was considered to be axiomatic. No one even attempted to check this theory with a corresponding experiment until the 1980s, when the first experimental data appeared on this topic.
Today the opinions are divided. According to earlier authors, male peacocks with a more beautiful and larger tail with more eyespots receive more attention from females and have increased reproductive success. According to the latest and the largest study of peacocks’ behaviour, peahens pay no attention to the male’s spectacular display, and there is absolutely no correlation between the size of the train or the number of eyespots and reproductive success.
I proposed that a peacock’s huge and colourful tail, covered with over 160 large eyespots, together with their loud piercing voice and their fearless behaviour, proves instead that male peacocks use the aposematic strategy of survival.
- "Peacock’s Tail: Tale of Beauty and Intimidation": excerpt from the 2011 book Why do People Sing?.
- "Peacock – The Rise and Fall of a Symbol?": excerpt from the 2014 book Tigers, Lions and Humans.