I don't know much about biology. I just like watching David Attenborough videos and this made me curious.

I just watched this video about breeding Southern Right Whales, and these two quotes puzzled me:

Quote 1 occurs at 1:54

"The males barge and jostle one another to reach her"

Quote 2 occurs at 3:51

"One coupling can flush out whatever preceded it, so it may not be the first male who succeeded in copulating who becomes a father it (will/would?) be the last."

Quote 1 suggests my first assumption.

Males compete to be the first to mate with a female

Quote 2 suggests that a male's chance of being a father is decreased each time a subsequent male copulates with the female. This leads me to my next assumption.

The last male to mate with the female has the best chance of being the father

Beyond what was said in the video, I just have a general assumption that the healthiest male (best genes) will mate first because he's faster, stronger, etc. So here is my third assumption.

The last male to mate is the male carrying the worst genes.

All together, this seems pretty bad for the species. I mean, if the worst genes are the ones most likely to get passed down, wouldn't that make the species evolve in a bad direction? So here is my conclusion.

The breeding habits of southern right whales are bad for the species.

Is this true? If so, does this occur in other species, and does it have a name? If not, where did I go wrong with my logic?


  • $\begingroup$ The keyword here is may in "it may not be the first". Most likely the first male will have the highest change. It is unlikely that all his semen is removed by the next and even if so, it might already be to late. $\endgroup$ – RHA Apr 25 '16 at 20:35

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