Thinking like a scientist

Being a scientist, or even working towards being a scientist, changes the way you think. It does for me, anyway. For example, I’m currently reading (and loving) The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.

My favourite type of book- long meaty fantasy that starts with a map, female characters who DO things, lots of action. Dragons. Awesome.

Near the start there’s a throwaway comment about a bird, the peach-faced mimic, which is described as mating for life, and which recognises it’s mate by song. I love details like that in stories. But, that raises so many questions! OK, I grant that this is niche; my research is about mating systems. But I still want to know:

  1. Does the female use any extra-pair copulation, like great tits do?
  2. Is the genetic mating system the same as the social mating system? Some birds appear to be monogamous but genetic research shows that they really aren’t!
  3. Do environmental conditions change this? What about other constraints on breeding activity? Would the males try to be polygynous if they could, like my fodies?

Important questions!

In summary, thinking about things like a scientist changes your appreciation of many different types of media. It’s still a great book, though. Go read it.

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