Weird Animal Mating Rituals (PHOTOS)
Evolution works in wondrous ways. Every aspect of our living selves reflects nature's innovation - from five fingered hands to our complex sense organs. But we might not always remember that sex is a precise product of evolution as well. We humans are used to hearing about even the kinkiest of our own species' practices, but for the fifteen species in the slideshow below, mating is a whole different game plan. Learn about some of the most interesting and eccentric mating practices in the animal kingdom - from a "snake orgy" to penile mutilations.
It's almost impossible to catch a male angler fish. Why? They don't exist for very long. When a male angler fish is born, it is a tiny creature with no digestive system. As such, it must swim to find a female angler fish as soon as possible. When it does, it bites and releases an enzyme that removes a part of her flesh allowing the male to fuse. Soon it becomes nothing but a small bump on the side of its partner. This lump stores the sperm needed for fertilization when the female is ready to reproduce. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/helder/" target="_hplink">http://www.flickr.com/photos/helder/</a>
When a female garter snake is ready to mate, it releases a strong sex pheromone that drives hundreds of male gartner snakes to her location. Once there, the snakes form an intertwined pile of slithering bodies, covering the female and attempting to mate with her at the same time. This not only provides the female with a vast plethora of potential suitors, but also warmth and protection during the process.
Hippos might look lackadaisical, but don't be fooled. They're among the most dangerous animals in the world, and are highly territorial. During mating, the male will empty his bladder and bowels in the surrounding water and use his powerful tail to splash the fecal water at a female of interest. Skip to 1:35. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/SCOTTIESPINSERVE?feature=watch" target="_hplink">http://www.youtube.com/user/SCOTTIESPINSERVE?feature=watch</a>
Male camels who are sexually aroused attract females through excessive salivation, covering their mouths in a drooling white froth. But that's not all: they also expel a pink sack from the roof of their mouths called the doula, which hangs out from the side of their mouths to attract females. Skip to 1:13 to see the mating ritual.
The manakin is a small bird with a startling, stage-worthy mating ritual; the Moonwalk.
White Fronted Parrot
As a part of their mating ritual, the white fronted parrot kisses its partner much like two humans might - except without the beaks. But unlike the standard french kiss, the male parrot adds a secret ingredient: vomit. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jroldenettel/" target="_hplink">http://www.flickr.com/photos/jroldenettel/</a>
The bean weevil's penis is covered in sharp spines. Its genitals severely damage the inside of the female's reproductive tract, a phenomenon known as "traumatic insemination." <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bramblejungle/" target="_hplink">http://www.flickr.com/photos/bramblejungle/</a>
During courtship, porcupine males stand on their hind legs and spray their partners with urine. If a female is ready to mate she will then allow the male to mount. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gander178/" target="_hplink">http://www.flickr.com/photos/gander178/</a>
After ejaculation, the male honey bee's genitals break away from the body and lodge themselves inside the queen bee's reproductive tract. This acts as a plug that blocks any other worker bees from mating with the queen. This insurance, however, comes at a cost, as the male honey bee dies soon after. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheepies/" target="_hplink">http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheepies/</a>
The praying mantis is infamous for its mating ritual. During coitus a hungry or stressed female will bite off the head of its mate and use it for nourishment. Unlike common belief however, this form of "rough" mating only occurs less than a third of the time. Nevertheless, the male mantis takes a definite risk in each attempt at procreation. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonscottmeans/" target="_hplink">http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonscottmeans/</a>
To check if a female giraffe is ready to mate, the male will nudge her behind with his head to induce urination. He will then taste the urine to see if she is in heat. If so, he will follow her around until she allows him to mount. Interestingly, females that find a male to be particularly attractive have been observed to urinate more. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/cabagg?feature=watch" target="_hplink">http://www.youtube.com/user/cabagg?feature=watch</a>
Male argonauts have a specialized tentacle, known as a hectocotylus, that holds a ball of spermatozoa on the end. In the vicinity of a female, this tentacle actually detaches from its host and swims towards the prospective mate. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/saspotato/" target="_hplink">http://www.flickr.com/photos/saspotato/</a>
The porcupine-like echindna has a four-headed penis. Even more surprising is the coordination between the heads; they work in pairs, with only one pair active at any one time. The other pair rests, in preparation for the next round of mating. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/denis_fox/" target="_hplink">http://www.flickr.com/photos/denis_fox/</a>
Banana slugs have extremely long penises, some as long as their own body length. As hermaphrodites, two slugs will form the arrangement shown above in order to try to fertilize one another. In some cases however, a penis can get stuck in the middle of the attachment, holding two slugs together. The solution? The other slug chews it off.
The Frigate Bird
A male frigate bird inflates a large throat sack, a mating ritual that takes a lot of effort and some time. Once it inflates, the sack looks like a big pink heart. To complete the ritual the male will shake its wings and sing a mating call.
Female hyenas are at the top of the hyena hierarchy. They are the more aggressive and dominate sex. This is because young female hyenas produce androgens, a similar hormone to testosterone, which increases aggression and competitiveness. It also enlarges the genitalia, creating a seven inch clitoris, or pseudo-penis. This gets tricky when a male tries to mate, and means that rape is extremely difficult. What's more, females have to give birth through their enlarged clitoris, which can cause serious complications for the mother. Skip to 1:23 in the video to get a better look. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/berenice881?feature=watch" target="_hplink">http://www.youtube.com/user/berenice881?feature=watch</a>
The brown antechinus is renowned for its hyperactive sexuality. Male antechinuses have been known to engage in coitus for hours with a single partner, only to move onto another. Eventually the male dies, a sexual martyr, from a lack of food and rest.