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Brain Behav Evol. 1990;35(6):350-67.

Functional analysis of sexual dimorphism in an electric fish, Hypopomus pinnicaudatus, order Gymnotiformes.

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Section of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.


Hypopomus pinnicaudatus, an electric fish, has a marked sexual dimorphism in its tail filament. Sexually mature males have long, 'feathered' tails as compared with females. The sexual dimorphism emerges when a fish reaches about 110 mm total length. Mature males have larger electrocytes which are more widely spaced and more numerous than those in mature females. The biphasic electric organ discharge (EOD) is longer in males than in females. The peak-to-peak amplitude of the male's EOD is weaker than a female's of the same total length. The weaker discharge is unexpected given the increase in size and number of electrocytes. It is suggested that the reduction in EOD amplitude is a consequence of the increase in EOD duration among males. Further, female choice probably played a role in the evolution of long duration EODs among males, and males may have secondarily grown long tails to compensate for the loss in active space that would otherwise accompany a weaker EOD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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