Dating tips from the animal kingdom

From paperpariah on Flickr

Got a hot date?

If it’s with a human, you’ll probably have to rely on the classic wooing strategies: flowers, chocolates, dinner and dancing, smelling good, etc.

But in the animal kingdom, courtship often has a different flavor. I combed back through the archives of New Scientist’s Zoologger, a weekly column about extraordinary animals, and turned up some unusual techniques that other creatures use to seduce their chosen mate.

Bugs stab their sweethearts in the stomach.

Male bed bugs and bat bugs use sharp penises to stab their partners in the abdomen and deliver sperm directly into the blood. Bean weevils, who have huge and spiny penises, also lacerate their mates during sex.

Koalas use a sexy voice.

Koalas bellow to attractive females in an unusually deep voice. Their mating song, which sounds “more like a series of burps and snores,” is 20 times lower than scientists would expect the little bears to have.

Spiders give gifts – but sometimes make a fatal mistake.

Two species of South American spiders look so similar that sometimes the spiders themselves get confused. Males who offer a mating gift to the wrong kind of female often end up getting eaten instead.

Albatrosses keep an open relationship.

Once the wandering albatross grows up, it finds a partner to mate with for life. But that doesn’t mean that they’re exclusive – about 1 in 10 chicks are the product of adultery.

Flatworms try some unusual foreplay.

A hermaphroditic species of flatworm pokes another flatworm with its penis. The other flatworm pokes back. This quickly devolves into a game that experts call “penis fencing.”

Great white sharks strut their stuff.

How do great white sharks snag a girlfriend? By showing off their best deep dives, of course, while all the females gather round to watch.

Hawkfish morph into the opposite sex.

Hawkfishare born as females and then later mature into males. Too much competition from other males? Switch back to female. Lots of females hanging around? Switch back to male.

Macaques synchronize their sex schedules.

Female Assamese macaques are more likely to decide to have sex on a given day if other ladies are doing it too. That way, they can mate with who they want, instead of getting stuck with just the dominant males.

Male wasps call dibs on the hot ones.

When this Japanese wasp sees an attractive female, he flicks her on the head with his antenna. Once that happens, she’ll shrug off other males and wait for her guy.

Snakes have a massive orgy.

Red-sided garter snakes roll up into large “mating balls” with dozens of males competing for a single female.

I… think that’s a good place to end things.

Aviva Hope Rutkin is a reporter for New Scientist. Follow her on Twitter @realavivahr.


84 Responses to “Dating tips from the animal kingdom”

  1. Joana_JW

    My goodness snakes 😀 this is quite a revelation and I am loving it. Especially the facts about Hawkfish and snakes. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. kelsydemelo

    Love the penis fencing! Forwarded this to my significant other.. HA! Will have to reply and let you know how it goes 😉

  3. Nilooka

    Reblogged this on Mindculture's Blog and commented:
    Anyone needs dating tips? No? Still read this anyway. It should give your brain a break from more serious things… Not that I think dating is a trivial thing, especially for spiders.

  4. docad

    Great article. I studied animal behavior in school. This was a great reminder. And picture was attractive. Good job.

  5. nukegreen2777

    This article reminds me of how animals communicate with each other in a book for entertaining used. Thanks for sharing interesting facts about animals 🙂


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