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Reciprocal selection pressures often lead to close and adaptive matching of traits in coevolved species. A failure of one species to match the evolutionary trajectories of another is often attributed to evolutionary lags or to differing selection pressures across a geographic mosaic. Here we show that mismatches in adaptation of interacting species–an obligate brood parasitic duck and each of its two main hosts–are best explained by the evolutionary dynamics within the host species. Rejection of the brood parasite's eggs was common by both hosts, despite a lack of detectable cost of parasitism to the hosts. Egg rejection markedly reduced parasite fitness, but egg mimicry experiments revealed no phenotypic natural...