Male great tits with flashy boobs produce stronger sperm

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Washington, Jan 21 (ANI): In the world of great tits, males with brighter breasts have more resilient sperm, a new study says.

The first of its kind study found that birds' 'bling-bling' plumage appears to act like a flashing billboard, and broadcasts the males' reproductive superiority to females eager to produce offspring.

And thereafter, the poster finds an appreciative audience in female great tits, since snagging a male with high-quality sperm isn't exactly a lark.

That's in part because free radicals threaten sperm cells in many animals. Free radicals are groups of oxygen-activated atoms that can damage sperm cells, weakening their swimming ability, and are created by cells when stressed by pollution and other factors, reports National Geographic News.

Many animals' bodies produce antioxidants that fight free radicals-including male great tits. The birds have an antioxidant called carotenoid that not only defends against free radicals but also gives their breast feathers a yellow hue.

Now, in the latest study, it has been shown that in males with more carotenoid, and thus more color, the sperm is better able to withstand a free radical onslaught.

To investigate whether more colorful great tits have more resilient sperm, study leader Fabrice Helfenstein, an evolutionary ecologist, and colleagues increased the parenting "workload" of 29 nesting pairs in Bern, Switzerland, in 2008.

Helfenstein is an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Bern in Switzerland. (ANI)

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