What might the elaborate courtship dance of male birds have in common with our own male dance partners? More than we might realize.
Think of John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever'' as he struts onto the disco dance floor in his skin tight jeans and shiny polyester shirt. His moves are pure sex, his performance all exuberant display, impressing the women at the disco as much as those in the theater, watching. As the dominant male in the place, Travolta is desirability personified. Something very primal is being stirred.
The dance performed by the South American long-tailed manakin, as observed in "A Natural History of Sex,'' by Adrian Forsyth, is but one of countless species dances, all different, and all designed for the purpose of attracting a sexual partner. The male birds dance around and the female birds decide if "that's the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it.''