Did you know about these mating rituals?
The act of love making can be exciting, romantic and even produce the odd offspring, but in the animal kingdom it can be bizarre and even terrifying sometimes.
Much like with the human race it’s inevitably the female who gets the short end of the stick. For many species, females also have to protect the eggs until they hatch or carry them inside them until they give birth, as well as having to care for their offspring as the male is off chatting up another potential lover.
But males don’t get it all their way as females can be very picky about who they share their genetic material with and he, in a lot of cases, has to work damn hard to impress her. On the odd occasion, he gets the shorter end of the stick by being killed for his efforts.
So let’s have a look at some of the lengths creatures have to go through to give their family trees a few more branches.
While some creatures ‘mate for life’ the bonobo mates throughout life, all the time, with anyone it can as often as it can. These sexually rapacious creatures don’t exclusively have sex to reproduce, like ourselves, they consider sex as a social activity.
However, unlike us, a male bonobo has no issue having sex with a female that still has a baby clinging to it and she doesn’t seem all that bothered by this either.
The concept of monogamy is also foreign to bonobos and they will literally have sex with anyone and everyone, which also means that heterosexuality is not something they strictly adhere to. Sex is used to establish social rank and is even used as sort of currency.
When Samuel Taylor Coleridge came up with the metaphor “the birds and the bees” in the context of love in his 1825 collection “Work Without Hope”, there is absolutely NO WAY he knew anything about the bees mating ritual, and if he did, he was one sick man.
The reason why you ask? Well……..when the male is ready to inseminate the queen during copulation, his testicles literally explode, killing him. I can hear you sitting there reading this going ‘wait…..WHAT!??!!?’ but believe it or not there is a reason for this most explosive of adaptations.
Once a female gets sperm from a male, the fertilization process doesn’t happen immediately, she only uses the sperm when she’s ready to lay her eggs. This delay gives another male the opportunity to swoop out the previous partners sperm and replace it with his own. In order to stop this, the poor little exploding testicle bee’s penis breaks off inside the female sealing off any chance of a competitor removing his sperm.
In our own relationships there are little indicators and signs that our partners are in the mood but I can guarantee one of them doesn’t require you to drink her pee. Well if you are a male giraffe that is exactly what you have to do.
In order for a male giraffe to know whether the female is ready to mate, he will actually use his head to rub against her backside until she pees. Once she starts peeing he will actually drink her urine to find out whether she is in heat or not. That’s quite a taste test, not exactly the Pepsi Challenge.
When it comes to challenges, the male is not on his own in this taste bud tickling endeavor as several other males will be up for mating with the female. So, like with most males it’s time for a fight, and if you’ve never seen two male giraffes fighting, it’s quite a sight.
Known as ‘necking’ (unsurprisingly), two males will stand beside each other, swing their necks wildly, and batter each other with their heavy heads. To the winner goes the spoils…..that’s if she is in the mood of course.
Having both male and female reproductive organs (hermaphrodites), the flatworms really do have to fight for their right to party. The life of a male is far more desirable as it is much easier than that of the females, as any female reading this will attest to.
After the mating is finished, the male can just swim off to go and hang out at his local watering hole with his buddies, leaving the female to raise the kids. Due to the fact the female has to dedicate time and resources to their young, if either of them wants the male role, they’ve got to fight for it.
Being males, of course they challenge each other to a duel…..with their penises. Whoever manages to stab the other first then earns the right to be the lazy dead beat dad.
Although bedbugs infestations can be a horrible experience for us, spare a moment to think of the poor female bedbug and what she has to go through during their mating ritual, not least because it sounds like the authorities should be involved as its known as the not terrifying at all ‘ traumatic insemination’.
Yes, it is as awful as sounds, and sometimes it’s not just the poor female. When mating the male grabs a hold of the poor female and stabs his penis into a special place in her abdomen, inseminating her. This is a traumatic experience for the females’ exoskeletons and probably ruins the rest of her day. Although, they have adapted ways of minimizing the damage and protecting themselves.
Unfortunately for the other males involved in this traumatic ritual, they aren’t so lucky if another over zealous male accidentally stabs them instead. Having not evolved the same protective adaptations as the female the trauma inflicted by the other male can, and usually does, result in death.
Garden snails have traits associated with two previous entries on this list, like the flatworm they are hermaphroditic and like our previous entry their mating ritual sounds like the police should be called. However, unlike the bedbugs, there is no clear winner as in this mating ritual…..they BOTH get stabbed.
Snails have an extremely sharp reproductive organ, affectionately known as a ‘love dart’, located on their necks. The neck is where is fired from and the neck is where they get stabbed in. Once the dart is jabbed into the others neck it provides the sperm to fertilize the other’s eggs.
If for some bizarre reason you think a bit of neck stabbing is harmless, you’ll be shocked to learn then that it can be quite fatal. To many neck stabbing can cause a reduction in fertility and eventual death. Who would have thought?
Red-Sided Garter Snake
When you watch those old movies when a princess is meeting potential suitors and they all line up in an orderly fashion to lavish her with praise and gifts, hoping to be chosen to be her prince charming? Yea, this is nothing like that, female red-sided garter snakes don’t get such a fairytale.
When the female is ready to mate she can have up to 100 male suitors hoping to be the lucky one and no one wants to wait about to find out if they will be. The will all swarm her in what’s called a ‘mating ball’ and not one with pretty gowns and elaborate masks.
They will all try and mate with her at the same time and once one of the males is successful the female will roll around on the ground just to get the rest of the males off her. Sadly for her, if she is not in peak condition, this sudden free for all can actually kill her.
Birds of Paradise
While this ritual may not be as strange sounding as some others you’ll read on this list, the male Bird of Paradise has some serious moves. Before continuing with the rest of this article I highly recommend you take a minute to go onto YouTube and have a look for yourself.
The display this little bird puts on to attract a potential mate is quite a spectacular sight, however, his dance moves better be Micheal Jackson levels of smooth if he hopes to win over the watching female. This dance routine of the male Bird of Paradise is not actually an innate skill, it’s something they learn and perfect throughout their youth.
His dance, apart from being awesome, will actually give the female a lot of valuable information about his suitability as a potential mate. She obviously finds these displays sexually irresistible but she can also learn a lot about the males health condition by the color and quality of his feathers. Unfortunately, if she doesn’t find his moves on the dancefloor smooth, she will just walk on to see the next disco dancer.
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