I'm a biology amateur, but it seems like sexual selection is almost always performed based on physical characteristics, the outcome of physical contests, or some sort elaborate courtship. But do any non Homo-Sapiens perform sexual selection based on intelligence factors, like problem solving abilities? If so, how does the species accomplish this? I know natural selection as a whole would definitely favor intelligent individuals, but I'm curious if any species actually takes this into account when choosing mates.
Very intresting question. The problem is that animal intelligence is hard to measure not only for scientists, but probably also for the potential mate. Paradoxically, that is why selection for intelligence, if it occurred, may be very strong. One has to be smart in order to recognise smart behaviour, so preference and preferred feature are strongly connected. But that's only my opinion.
Boogert et al., 2011 1 reviews the current knowledge about animal preferences for cognition skills. They conclude that there is very little data on this subject. The given examples are:
1) Preference for elaborating birds songs (as songs are not inborn and have to be learned)
2) Spatial abilities:
It is possible, that females base their choose on some factors that correlates with cognitive skills or on total wellness, what may depend on intelligence.
3) bowerbird's abilities to build bowers (courtship constructions):
4) foraging performance
Another way that intelligence may be favored by sexual selection is "cheating" during courtship. For example most frog species call to attract females. But this signal may also attract aggresive rivals or predators. Some males, especially the weaker ones, do not call but stay near calling individual. This allows them to avoid confrontation and wait for approaching females . The successfulness of this strategy may depend on how "smart" the individual is (only my opinion).
 Bateson P. 1985. Mate choice. Cambridge University Press. 181-210
I know nothing about biology however I did watch an amazing PBS documentary on cuttlefish that I think is fairly relevent.
Since when do humans engage in sexual selection based on intelligence? Humans DO NOT select mates based on intelligence. Just like animals, human sexual selection is primarily based on physical traits.
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