The Animal Behavior Podcast

E09: Mike Ryan on A Taste for the Beautiful

October 11, 2021 The Animal Behavior Podcast Season 1 Episode 9
The Animal Behavior Podcast
E09: Mike Ryan on A Taste for the Beautiful
Show Notes

Episode Summary:

In this episode, Matthew speaks with Mike Ryan, the Clark Hubbs Regents Professor in Zoology in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas as well as a senior research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Balboa, Panama.

They focus their conversation around Mike's book, A Taste for the Beautiful. They discuss the túngara frog system in detail, as well as the sensory exploitation hypothesis. After the break they talk about some compelling examples of sexual beauty that span modalities in non-human animals, and close by discussing human and non-human perception of non-sexual beauty.

For more content from this interview with Mike, check out the Supplemental Material bonus episode in your feed.

This week's Two-Minute Takeaway comes from Dr. Emily Bray (@DrEmilyBray), a postdoc at the University of Arizona Canine Cognition Center and Canine Companions. Read the paper that Emily references in the episode here.

Media relevant to today's show:

 Read more about the ways in which bats and female frogs respond to variation in male túngara frogs

Akre, K. L., Farris, H. E., Lea, A. M., Page, R. A., & Ryan, M. J. (2011). Signal perception in frogs and bats and the evolution of mating signals. Science, 333(6043), 751-752.

2.  For a deep-dive on the sensory exploitation hypothesis, read Mike's book chapter on the topic

Ryan, M. J. (1990). Sexual selection, sensory systems and sensory exploitation. Oxford surveys in evolutionary biology, 7, 157-195.

3.  Check out the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama 


The Animal Behavior Podcast is created by Matthew Zipple (@MatthewZipple) and Amy Strauss (@avstrauss).

Casey Patmore (@PaseyCatmore) is the communications director.

You can contact us at and find us on Twitter (@AnimalBehavPod).

Our theme song is by Sally Street (@Rainbow_Road13), assistant professor in evolutionary anthropology at Durham University in the UK. You can find her on Sound Cloud here:

Musical transitions by André Gonçalves (@fieryangelsfell), a researcher at the primate research institute at Kyoto University.

Our logo was designed by Adeline Durand-Monteil (@adelinedurandm), a master’s student in ecology and evolution. You can see more of Adeline's work on her website:

The Animal Behavior Podcast is produced with support from the Animal Behavior Society (@AnimBehSociety)