Battle of the Sexes
When you take a picture of a popular Red Sea reef scene, apart from the corals hard and soft, the beautiful blue background and the gin like clarity, what is one of the fundamental parts of the diorama that completes the image?
Yes it’s the most abundant fish, and the key signifier that a shot has more than likely been captured in the Egyptian Red Sea.
I’m talking about the Anthias, the prolific orange ticks that show up so well against that beautiful blue background.
Did you know though what is going on behind the scenes in the world of the Anthias?
A typical Red sea reef scene with hundreds of Anthias, with the males falling far behind in the intellectual stakes.

A typical Red sea reef scene with hundreds of Anthias, with the males falling far behind in the intellectual stakes.

 

It’s quite a brutal world, and the ratio of females to males is around ten to one and in short the purple ones, the boys have a harem of about ten girls apiece.
They are in constant turmoil fighting off other males trying to steal their girls, this shortens their lives somewhat, but this isn’t the most amazing thing, a researcher from the Arkansas University of Piscine Sciences, Professor Avril Zardeen has proven that the male Anthia is significantly less intellectually capable than the females.
It has something to do with the hormone testosterone that reduces the males ability to think critically.
The female Anthias, the top of the class, a proper little fishy brainbox swot.

The female Anthias, the top of the class, a proper little fishy brainbox swot.

 

They discovered this by the usual cognitive methods like mazes and simple puzzles, with the girls being able to defeat the boys in most tests.
In some cases the female Anthias were even able to  complete simple Sudokus and word finder games but the boys just registered confusion on their faces when presented with the numbers in their test tanks and swam around in sad bewildered circles.
Dr Avril said “we’ve known for a while that the male of the species is rendered particularly stupid by the sex hormone testosterone and his relentless pursuit to procreate, this of course has an evolutionary purpose, we’re just not quite sure what. Some of these boys even score lower than jellyfish in our tests”
A male Anthias, the dunce in the study.

A male Anthias, the dunce in the study.

This is an ongoing project with the pioneering lab work being expanded to compare the IQ levels of a variety of marine creatures, and great promise has been shown by a genetically modified Pilchard that has learnt to read French, and they are rumoured to have an Otter that plays chess to a very high level. Click here to find out more.
Duxy