Fake it ‘til you make it

Posted on October 4, 2019

A cluster of conspicuously macho types circle each other, twitching their muscles, hoping to attract nearby female attention. It’s a tense environment. Some males resort to body blocks to stop their sexual rivals from drifting too close to the females.

Downstream from the action there’s a smaller male. He’s terrible at this courtship display, but he’s a master of cunning and subterfuge: he accentuates his small physique, his slightly female characteristics. The dominant males ignore him. They don’t even see him coming. Then: boom! The small one darts up and takes the prize.

Scene from a local bar? Maybe a sand bar. The males and females in this scenario are chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta), not humans.

It turns out the animal world is full of fraudulent behaviour, camouflage and fakery of all types.  Faking it helps with sexual competition.  It helps when you’re dealing with nasty predators. It helps to protect your stash of food.

Join us at the next Museum Happy Hour event–naturally called “Fake Out!—to hear unnaturally amusing stories of fakery and fraud in the natural world, all while enjoying an after-work drink and a bite to eat.

And yes, humans are masters of fakery, too. Even proud and professional Royal BC Museum staff. As part of this Museum Happy Hour event, you’ll get to see some of the impressively convincing but entirely phony things made by the exhibition arts team behind the scenes.

Learn more about Museum Happy Hour: Fake Out!, on Thursday October 10, from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.

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