Very attractive truthahnes have similar genes to their brothers, but they are better at activating them. Differences in the genetic makeup of individuals are less important for sexual attraction, british researchers have found. For this, they compared truthahnbruder with each other.
Although their genes showed very few differences, they included both dominant males with brightly colored heads and long skin flaps above their beaks and those further down the pecking order.
In high-ranking animals, the genes for typical male characteristics were relatively active and those for female characteristics were rather suppressed. This is what the biologists around professor judith mank from the university college london report in the journal "PLOS genetics". Which group an animal belongs to is decided in the winter before it reaches sexual maturity. Scientists suspect that the concentration of male hormones plays a role in gene activation.
But even the less attractive truthahne have their role in the breeding season: as assistants they help their dominant brothers to find females and mate, the researchers write. Even if they didn’t get to play themselves, their own genes were passed on indirectly through their brother in this way.