You are here:


The Ins and Outs of Sex: a few fun questions – STIAS Public lecture by Michael Jennions

STIAS Public Lectures Series

This is a past event, preserved for historical records. Click here to view current events.

Register here by 6 August 2023

Michael Jennions, an evolutionary biologist at the Australian National University and STIAS Fellow will present a public lecture with the title:

The Ins and Outs of Sex: a few fun questions

Many of us are fascinated by sex and differences between the sexes. In this talk I will introduce some of the tools and logic that evolutionary biologists use to predict how animals will invest in different traits – be these physiological, morphological or behavioural. I will illustrate this approach using three (hopefully) engaging examples from my own lab’s research that are associated with male-female interactions. First, what is the optimal ratio of sons to daughters to produce? If you believe the answer is to make as many sons as daughters then you are in for a surprise. Second, is there any evidence that smarter males are sexier? Some of you will be hoping the answer is a resounding yes. Third, is there more variation among males than there is variation among females in behaviour? The answer has potential implications for popular arguments you will see in the media to explain why more men than women are described as geniuses.

Michael Jennions is an evolutionary biologist working at the Australian National University. He completed his BSc and MSc at Wits University, followed by a PhD at Oxford University. He then spent five years at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. He has worked on frogs, zebra finches, damselflies, fiddler crabs, plants, cichlid fish, crickets, beetles and live-bearing fish. Aside from evolutionary biology, with a special focus on sexual selection, he is interested in the dangers posed by a scientific system with reward incentives that encourage biased presentation of research findings and even fraud. His only claim to fame is a Youtube video with 2.2 millions views. It is on his most frivolous research. The title is ‘Does size matter?’, and you can work where it goes from there.  He’s also pretty stoked that, for unknown reasons, local crime novelist Deon Meyer follows him on Twitter.

For more information, contact Ms Nel-Mari Loock at 021 808 2652 or [email protected]

Date and time

Tuesday, 8 August 2023

16:00 – 18:00​

All times are in SAST (UTC+2)


STIAS Wallenberg Research Centre

STIAS, Marais Road, Mostertsdrift

Related to this event




Evolutionary ecology theory applies principles of biological evolution to explain variation in how living creatures appear and behave. For example, how many sons versus daughter should a mother produce?...

Share this event:

Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Always hear about the latest events: