The smaller size of males may not always be a big let-down for female partners, at least in the world of insects, suggests new research.
Female burying beetles are more attracted to small partners because they are less likely to get into fights, the study said.
The findings showed that when the first beetle to arrive was female, both beetles quickly settled down and bred as a pair. However, when a male turned up first, relationships got complicated and messy, when competition from other males led to fights.
“These results show that by being choosy about their males, female burying beetles might avoid complicated relationships involving male fights and extra female competitors,” said lead researcher Paul Hopwood from the University of Exeter in Britain.
In experiments, the researchers observed that small males were more successful than large males at attracting a female partner than a male rival, and researchers believe that this is because they attracted less competition and potential for squabbles.
The research found that while small male beetles were more successful at attracting female mates to the breeding ground of an animal carcass than larger males, they did not make better parents.
“We found no evidence that males of any size, or from any social background, were more committed parents,” Hopwood pointed out.