Top Dog

A dominant male long-tailed manakin acquires a team of subordinate males to help him woo females. “It’s the only example of cooperative male-male displays ever discovered in the entire animal kingdom,” writes Noah Strycker in The Thing With Feathers.

It’s common for male animals to cooperate to impress females, but typically each of those males is hoping to mate. Among manakins the eldest male gets this right, and the others defer until they succeed him.

Strycker writes, “A pair of male long-tailed manakins may work together like this for five years, building up their jungle reputation as hot dancers, before the alpha male dies and the backup singer takes his place with a new apprentice.”