January 5, 2018


Lewis G. Spurgin and Tracy Chapman
School of Biological Sciences
University of East Anglia
Norwich research Park
Norwich NR4 7TJ

Dear Folks,
I read with interest your article (Finches choose parent look-alikes as mates Nature vol. 5641 no. 7735 December 13, 2018 page 196.) You have corrected a misunderstanding on my part. My understanding was that mice and humans depended on signals from status and violence in order to select mates. This may come as a bit of a surprise, but if you will take a gander at the enclosed DVD (you’ll need to play it on a computer, not in the DVD player: sorry but I often deal with Americans so I have to say that) you will see the proof.  You will also see that unless we begin to take care with our mating choices, we shall all die out because failure to marry cousins causes infertility, eventually absolute infertility.

Anyhow, mice choose mates by status and violence, while voles and fruit flies choose mates based on kinship and attraction. I recently noticed that fruit flies also take fashion into account. I thought that was a human thing, but I was wrong. Now it appears that finches take similar appearance into account. In other words, finches and fruit flies have a more sophisticated way of choosing mates than do humans and mice. In fact, humans and mice follow population size trajectories so similar that there is no question but that we choose mates on the same basis. I’m sure you’ve heard that you can marry for love or for money. Well I have the numbers that prove it, and I am giving them to you.

If you can figure out a way to use this knowledge to save the world, please let me know how (which won’t be easy for me because I’m so old and stupid, feeble and obnoxious) or else save the world yourselves. I’m sure it means more to you than to me and it certainly means a lot more to any child than to any of us. A child under 10 has a significant risk of being killed and eaten by cannibals by the time he or she is my age.
Linton Herbert

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