Thursday, February 14, 2013

More Weird Sex

In honor of Valentine’s Day, consider some of the many strange modes of lovemaking in the natural world. For inspiration on alien mating habits, try WILD SEX: WAY BEYOND THE BIRDS AND THE BEES, a 1991 book by naturalist Susan Windybank. Almost everything you might want to know about animal reproductive biology is at least touched upon in this book. The author traces the evolution of sex all the way from protozoans up to mammals. Some chapters have provocative titles such as “Bondage,” “Fatal Love,” “Virgin Birth,” “Polyandry,” “Incest,” and “Transvestism” (which should more accurately be labeled transsexualism, the conversion of an animal from one sex to the other, as normally occurs in some species of fish), among many others. Boxes inserted between blocks of text offer odd information such as the facts that the female canary must hear the male’s song in order for her ovaries to ripen, armadillos always give birth to identical quadruplets, and a male garter snake plugs up the female’s vagina after copulation to prevent other suitors from mating with her.

Other weird reproductive factoids:

Cockroaches have multiple hook-shaped penises.

The female bedbug has no vagina. The male has to drill into her abdomen to insert sperm.

The Surinam toad carries her eggs and hatchlings on her back until they outgrow the tadpole stage and become immature frogs.

The eggs of the mouthbrooder fish are fertilized inside her mouth. She catches her eggs in her mouth, then performs “oral sex” on the male fish to receive his sperm.

A pair of Indian pythons has been observed copulating for 180 days.

The male octopus uses a specialized arm to insert packets of semen into the female’s body cavity. Sometimes this appendage breaks off and stays inside her, where it used to be mistaken by scientists for a parasitic worm.

Offspring of the Chalcid Wasp can breed in the egg phase of development. Like tribbles, they can be born pregnant!

As Willow says on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, “Love makes you do the wacky.”

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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