Sexual Selection and Trichromatic Color Vision in Primates: Statistical Support for the Preexisting‐Bias Hypothesis
The evolution of trichromatic color vision in primates may improve foraging performance as well as intraspecific communication; however, the context in which color vision initially evolved is unknown. We statistically examined the hypothesis that trichromatic color vision in primates represents a preexisting bias for the evolution of red coloration (pelage and/or skin) through sexual selection. Our analyses show that trichromatic color vision evolved before red pelage and red skin, as well as before gregarious mating systems that would promote sexual selection for visual traits and other forms of intraspecific communication via red traits. We also determined that both red pelage and red skin were more likely to evolve in the presence of color vision and mating systems that promote sexual selection. These results provide statistical support for the hypothesis that trichromatic color vision in primates evolved in a context other than intraspecific communication with red traits, most likely foraging performance, but, once evolved, represented a preexisting bias that promoted the evolution of red traits through sexual selection.