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Peacock

The large, brightly colored plumage of the male peacock are a "handicap" to the animal in terms of survival.

Irish Elk front

Irish Elk had the biggest horns of any cervid species. Some hypothesize that the males used them both to battle other males and attract mates.

The handicap hypothesis, which was proposed in 1975 by A. Zahavi (Zahavi 1975) explains how it might be advantageous for females to choose a male to father her offspring that is the most "handicapped".  In other words, she should choose the male with the longest tail (as in the long-tail widow bird) or the one with the brightest colors (as in Guppies). The long feathers and bright colors represent a substantial handicap for their bearer in the fight for survival. Therefore, if a male with abnormally long tail feathers or unusually bright colors, (or. with an abnormally large handicap), has survived to reproductive age, it is almost certain that this must be an abnormally fit individual.

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