U of M Discovers Male Mallards Evolved Green Heads to Impress Females by Referencing “The Mask” (1994)

A team of evolutionary biologists from the University of Minnesota announced this week that male Mallards may have evolved their distinctive green heads as a way to impress females by making a humorous reference to the 1994 Jim Carrey vehicle “The Mask”.

“Scientists have known for years that Mallards’ heads are an example of sexual selection, but why females preferred them was a mystery because it doesn’t seem particularly sexy,” said the research team’s leader, Dr. Tom Calloway, “but then we realized – having a sense of humor can be sexy too”.

According to the group’s theory, in July 1994, a male Mallard somewhere in Wisconsin experienced a mutation that gave him a green head. A female recognized this as a reference to the uproarious comedic stylings of Canadian actor Jim Carrey and agreed to mate with him. The trait then quickly proliferated across North America and beyond.

Over the course of several weeks, researchers then sequenced the Mallard genome and discovered that the gene responsible for green heads became prominent in the population sometime around July 1994, only a month after Jim Carrey’s iconic comedy first hit theaters.

After uncovering this circumstantial DNA evidence, the team went to work studying modern-day Mallards. “We measured over 200 female ducks’ serotonin levels while they viewed a male duck and then again while they viewed a five minute clip of ‘The Mask’ in which Jim Carrey falls from the sixth floor of an apartment building and hilariously exclaims ‘look, Ma! I’m roadkill!’”, said zoologist Tiffany Lee, “the results showed the ducks were more excited to see ‘The Mask’ than a male, confirming our suspicions.” 

In a follow-up experiment, researchers attempted to show female Mallards the 2005 sequel “Son of the Mask” starring Jamie Kennedy but this elicited no positive reactions.

How female mallards became familiar with “The Mask” is still a matter of debate. The team says it may have happened via a rare process known as ‘zoofilmegenation’, whereby a single member of a wild species wanders by chance into a theater through an open door or window, views portions or the entirety of a motion picture, and then relates the best parts to members of their social circle. 

“We know zoofilmegenation has happened before in the animal kingdom from research in Oregon where a group of black bears in 2010 started hitting each other in the crotch after one of them got lost in Spokane and caught a matinee showing of ‘Jackass 3-D’,” said research assistant Sophia Hotchkiss. 

What’s next for Dr Calloway’s research team? “We hope to next find out whether male Cardinals are red because the color reminds them of that super cool Ferrari from ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’,” he says.