10 Most Bizarre Animal Mating Behaviors

Illustration for article titled 10 Most Bizarre Animal Mating Behaviors

As a group, animals are disgusting. It's really a shame we're one of them. But while we only display mating behavior on specially requested internet videos or unused sections of libraries, they have sex in front of biologists. The biologists, of course, can't keep their mouths shut and tattle all the animals' dirty dealings to us on nature shows. The only way to get some of this stuff out of one's head is to pass it on, so here are the animal kingdoms' top ten bizarre mating behaviors.

Photo by Rui Saraiva/Shutterstock

10. Spiders and their inevitably traumatic insemination

This is messed up, and should be higer on the list, but considering they're spiders, they have it coming to them. It serves them right for reproducing. Some male spiders lure a female over and literally stab her in the abdomen. Depositing their sperm in her ovaries. Other species take it a little easier on the female and make it a lot harder on the male. A male wants to mate with the biggest strongest female, so he has to choose the biggest mate he can find. However, if he finds one big enough, she'll probably eat him. It was first thought that all female spiders ate their mates, but after some study, scientists found that they only ate the ones they were sure they could beat in a fight. Often, though, to make sure their sacrifice isn't wasted, male spiders break off their genitals and leave them inside the female spider. I'm not really sure who that's punishing most.

Illustration for article titled 10 Most Bizarre Animal Mating Behaviors

9. The red velvet mite picks the worst romantic comedy cliche and perverts it

You know how in romantic comedies, the woman comes home and finds a trail or rose petals that lead to a softly lit warm bath? Or maybe she gets in late to find a trail of candles leading to a romantic dinner? Well, the female red velvet mite comes across a beautifully spun, winding trail of silk and follows it to find a pile of sperm. Remarkably, this actually works - provided the trail is nice enough - and she plunks herself down in the sperm and goes to town.

8. Male cuttlefish are basically the Jimmy Olsens of the animal world.

Some male cuttlefish are big and strong. Others are smaller. When it comes to fighting for a mate, the smaller males don't have a chance. Fortunately, cuttlefish are masters of disguise. They can control pigments in their skin to change their color, disguise their shape, and even create 'strobe lights' to dazzle their prey. The smaller males are about the size of females, so they tuck their telltale tentacles - or whatever - color themselves to look like females, throw on a wig and some heels and wade into a pile of big males all fighting over a female. The males let them through, and they get close to the female and mate with her. Testing shows that about 30 percent of eggs are descended from sneaky, smaller males.


7. Male mice cry for sex

Due to those freakish bulgy eyes, mice shed a lot of tears; both to keep their eyes moist and whenever they look in the mirror. It turns out, though, that the tears of a male mouse contain pheremones. When the female's nose makes contact with them, the female gets into mating position.


6. Love bugs are joined at - let's say the hip.

Love Bugs don't really see the point in not mating. Ever. These small, adorably named, winged flies get together soon after the female emerges from her pupal state. After they do attach themselves to each other, "pairs were never observed to disengage in flight or at night." They took a rest during the day, but since they tended to die within another three days, that didn't give them much time alone.


5. The male splendid fairywren shows us how to be a tough guy.

When predators make their presence known, all prey animals fall silent and hope they don't get eaten. All prey animals, that is, except the male splendid fairywren. To get his female in the mood, the splendid fairywren will wait until the predatory butcherbird is singing - and sing along. The louder and longer he sings, the more likely the butcherbird is to come over and eat him and the more likely the female splendid fairywren will get hot and bothered by his reckless display. It's like a man picking a fight in a biker bar to impress a woman. Only with wrens the woman is actually impressed; which is pretty damn bizarre.


4. The male cichlid: not cool, dude.

Some species of female cichlids carry their eggs in their mouths for safekeeping. How does the male fertilize them? By growing structures near its genitals that look like eggs. The female goes to put those eggs in her mouth and - yes. Not. Cool.

Illustration for article titled 10 Most Bizarre Animal Mating Behaviors

3. The leopard slug mates in a mucus hammock.

The leopard slug puts out slime to entice a mate. When the mate comes, they both head up to a branch. They circle each other, putting out a lot of slime, until they let go of the branch. The mucus forms a long thread, at the end of which they mate. How? They both extrude their sexual organs and twirl them together for a while, putting out more slime until they exchange sperm. They mate mostly at night, so if you're in a forest at night watch your head.


2. Sea Hares are just glad to be there.

Sea hares are sea slugs. Each has a vagina and a penis. No problem, one can just use its penis in the other's vagina. But then there's a whole extra penis and an extra vagina. That seems like a waste. Along comes another sea hare and joins in on one end or the other. What's particularly interesting about this is the sea hare in the middle can just pass genetic information along from the partner on one side to the partner on the other side.


1. Large female fruit flies are being killed off by toxic sperm.

Large female fruit flies may soon be a thing of the past. In the past, females could mate with many males and store sperm in their body. This posed a problem for the males. Even if they did manage to mate with a female, their sperm was not likely to used, especially if she was a big fly who got to mate with a lot of males. Over time, male fruit fly sperm evolved a bunch of little additives. Some made the female fruit fly more inclined to lay her eggs right away, and not keep playing the field. Some attacked and killed off the sperm of other males. It turned out, though, that these additives were not good for the females lifespan or reproduction. The bigger the female, the more likely she is to mate with many males, and the more likely she is to be poisoned by sperm and leave only a few eggs behind in her short life. Sometimes, sex kills.


Via Associated Content, Discover Magazine, Science Daily, Tonic, UFL, Inside Science and Blue Oak Farm.

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Corpore Metal

No greater proof against intelligent design is needed than to review the comparative mating behaviors of animals and plants. Sex entails death. It requires it. The only immortal parts are the genes themselves. You? You're just a disposable robot for the genes.

That sucks doesn't it?

Luckily we humans have started to step beyond that endless, mindless dance of the eons though. We have culture. We are the cultural creature. Cultural evolution is guided, is designed—well, mostly.

As long as our cultural survives, generations of future disposable robots will remember Marie Curie and Confucius. And the genes? They can go fuck themselves.