Quite a few animals (usually males) participate in various mating rituals to showcase their fertility as mates. While presumably, the successful ones get a chance to mate with females, it occurred to me that I don't actually know what happens to the ones that fail. I would assume that not all the ones that fail don't mate, as that would result in roughly 50% of the male population being frustrated sexually. But I can't figure out an alternative, do they get another chance to fight other losers? Do they just mate anyway at a lower rate?

  • $\begingroup$ I think it follows a bell curve with the most successful individuals having more than average and the less having less, and some having none. $\endgroup$ Apr 17, 2019 at 1:00
  • $\begingroup$ this depends on the species, it ranges from death to try again to alternative mating strategy. Many spiders that fail get eaten. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 10 at 3:32

1 Answer 1


A bit late to the party here but something important to note is that females aren't always strictly faithful to the "winners" of animals. In many cases losers actually employ a "losing" strategy where, while continuing to lose, mate with females on the side not immediately taken up by the winner. This is very common in social animals as far as I know but I am aware of species, especially individualistic ones, where (as the previous answer says) mating follows a more bellcurve pattern leaning towards winners meaning the females are just looking for the best options, and in rarer cases, only winners mate while losers don't get to at all. If only winners mated, it'd mess up the gene pool pretty fast, so females will mate with winners as a first choice, and then also try with next best options. Hopefully that helps answer your question, but I'm not a doctor in bio (yet) so take it with a grain of salt. Source: my Intro to Evolutionary Bio Cornell class, yada yada, and a few Youtube videos I'm unwilling to dig up.

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    $\begingroup$ What exactly do you mean by "if only winners mated, that would mess up the gene pool pretty fast"? Many animals produce huge numbers of offspring, very few of which end up reproducing. E.g. octopuses hatch tens of thousands of eggs. Genetically, it doesn't matter why an animal didn't reproduce; failure at a mating ritual is the same as failure to avoid predation. $\endgroup$
    – timeskull
    Jan 9 at 15:17

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