colours of the sexes does not bear any constant relation to affinity or systematic position. In both insects and birds we find examples of complete identity and extreme diversity of the sexes; and these differences occur sometimes in the same tribe or family, and sometimes even in the same genus.
It is only among the higher and more active animals that sexual differences of colour acquire any prominence. In the mollusca the two sexes, when separated, are always alike in colour, and only very rarely present slight differences in the form of the shell. In the extensive group of crustacea the two sexes as a rule are identical in colour, though there are often differences in the form of the prehensile organs; but in a very few cases there are differences of colour also. Thus, in a Brazilian species of shore-crab (Gelasimus) the female is grayish-brown, while in the male the posterior part of the cephalo-thorax is pure white, with the anterior part of a rich green. This colour is only acquired by the males when they become mature, and is liable to rapid change in a few minutes to dusky tints. In some of the freshwater fleas (Daphnoidae) the males are ornamented with red and blue spots, while in others similar colours occur in both sexes. In spiders also, though as a rule the two sexes are alike in colour, there are a few exceptions, the males being ornamented with brilliant colours on the abdomen, while the female is dull coloured.
Sexual Coloration in Insects.
- Darwin's Descent of Man, p. 271.