The birds-of-paradise are among the most beautiful creatures on earth—and an extraordinary example of evolutionary adaptation. Few have witnessed in the wild, the displays of color, sound, and motion that make these birds so remarkable.
Found only in New Guinea and parts of Australia, the birds-of-paradise are a case study in the evolutionary power of sexual selection. Their fantastic plumes and bizarre courtship displays are a result of millions of years of sexual selection at work in an environment with plentiful food and no natural predators.
Natural selection is widely considered to be an integral topic in biology, but sexual selection is a facet of natural selection that is often glossed over or not mentioned at all in biology classes.
It took 8 years and 18 expeditions to New Guinea, Australia, and nearby islands, but Cornell Lab scientist Ed Scholes and National Geographic photographer Tim Laman succeeded in capturing images of all 39 species in the bird-of-paradise family for the first time ever. This video gives a sense of their monumental undertaking and the spectacular footage that resulted.
Courtesy: Australian Geographic, i.ytimg.com, Cornell Lab of Ornithology