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April 8, 2009

Lessons in Love

Although humankind's courtship rituals might seem a little strange to some (count giving a woman flowers that will die, or chocolate that will make her fat, or something "for her kitchen"), these habits are nearly as strange as some seen in the animal world!

I found an old magazine article covering lessons that we humans might try to use during courtship and mating, and thought I'd find some as well. Do you think they'll work?

- The male Bedbug pierces a hole through his female's back with a spike on the front of his penis. He releases his sperm into the hole, and they have to swim in the female's blood until they reach her ovaries.

- Male beetle mites don't particularly care whether the spermatophores make it to a fertile female or not: they simply deposit large quantities of their sperm on the ground, and if a female happens along, she'll pick up some of these growths, which resemble fungi, and deposit them in her own reproductive organ.

- The male garden centipede is also a ground depositor: the substance is then found by a female, who takes it into her mouth and stores it in a special cheek pouch. When she feels she is ready, she places every egg into her mouth and smears some of the stored sperm on it.

- Male flatworms have a multifunctional penis (?). It is equipped with spikes and poison glands, and besides having a sexual function, it also catches prey (yikes! :) )

- Indian cobras take part in a mock fight before they mate. The female struggles violently, until they are eventually side by side with their heads and necks raised from the ground. The female will indicate her submission by placing her head on the ground, and, once the male has this signal, he brings one of his two penises into contact with her reproductive organ.

- The sex organs of octopus never touch - they look each other right in the face while the male ejaculates onto one of his tentacles, which he then uses to introduce the sperm to the female's reproductive organ.

- The fire salamander uses Rohypnol-like pheromones to intoxicate his quarry.

- The female grey whale must be gently rubbed between two males before she is aroused enough to mate. Only one of these males will be lucky enough to mate with her, while the other holds her in place.

- The female scorpion fly will copulate in direct proportion to the gift received by her mate.

- The fruit fly's sperm is four times its own body length and he offers it to his female of choice with a lilting melody of wing beats, which is unique to every fly.

I think the fruit fly's story sounds the sweetest!

Have you any strange courtship rituals to share? Human or non!?