Sexual selection is a process that occurs when certain traits in animals become more common over time because they increase an individual’s chances of attracting a mate and reproducing.
Unlike natural selection, which focuses on the survival, sexual selection is all about the success in finding a mate. It can lead to the development of unique features or behaviors, such as vibrant colors, elaborate patterns, or complex songs and dances, that help animals stand out and appeal to potential partners. This is often in opposition to natural selection. Sexual selection plays a significant role in the evolution of species and contributes to the amazing diversity of life on our planet.
Take a look at Anastasia’s video below to find out more about sexual selection. Then jump into playing Cha Cha Island to find out more about how sexual selection can lead to the evolution of elaborate traits!
Playing Cha Cha Island
Cha Cha Island is a game where players meet an island filled with unique and colorful creatures. These creatures, called Chachas, have different features and dance moves that make them attractive to each other. Your goal in the game is to impress your dance partner by ‘evolving’ the right traits and dancing to the rhythm.
As you play, you’ll learn how sexual selection works in the animal world and how it can lead to the elaboration of different traits. By understanding how Chachas pick their dance partners, you’ll see how sexual selection leads to a wide variety of animals with different features in the real world. This helps to explain why we have so many different kinds of animals on our planet. Download Cha Cha Island below!
Setting up Cha Cha Island
To add your data to the online experiment, you’ll need to enter your Class Code. This is done by pressing the notepad button in the upper left corner and entering: 2023gotm
Don’t forget to hit the submit button to make sure you’re successfully linked.
You can also add your name to compete in the leaderboard by pressing the Player ID button in the upper left corner and enter an gamertag. We all know we love bragging rights!
Next, make sure you have the sound up and your dancing shoes on, then press play!
Look at the data you helped collect!
Below are the data that you helped collect through playing. Have a peek and let’s see if the graphs help you understand how sexual selection works. When looking at the graphs below, we can make the assumption that points = fitness (or in other words, how impressed our mate was with our dancing). So keep that in mind as you explore the graphs below.
This first graph explore how many times players on average made the wrong dance moves in each of the levels. It seems that players really quickly learned that showing off the wrong moves meant that your mate didn’t pay attention. And if your mate didn’t pay attention, it means that you’re going to have a hard time impressing them! What do you think the graph below shows?
In this next graph, we can explore our sweet dance moves! Did you notice that you received bonuses when you created different combos of dance moves? Well, you did!
The graph below describes the average number of combos a player discovered as we played each round. Do you see a pattern? Remember, the y-axis is the cumulative number of combos discovered – can you identify which round we discovered the most combos?
And this final graph shows the relationship between the number of combos a player discovered and their total score. Do you see any relationship? Using this graph, how important do you think it is to create combos?
Do you think that this could help explain the evolution of really complex multimodal signaling in animals? (e.g., the dancing and vibrations seen in peacock spiders)
Look at the creatures we created!
We all started with the same, simple and plain Chacha. But take a look at all the different Chachas that we created once we played!
What do you think was the main factor that explains why we have so many different Chachas? In other words, do you think you would create the same Chacha if you played again? Give it a try!
The top 10
And of course, here’s the top 10 leaderboard – are you on here? If not, use the graphs above to figure out how you can maximize your score and try again!
We’d love to hear your thoughts!
There are so many more graphs to explore in our dashboard to help students understand sexual selection in a meaningful way.
You can even download the data to explore different aspects if you want your students to learn how to create and explore graphs on their own!
Drop us a line below, or join our Discord Server to chat with Anastasia and all our Arludo Ambassadors to learn more about sexual selection, how you can use games to teach science, and how to bring scientists to your classroom.